SMART Signal to improve traffic flow

How many green lights does it take to inch through a single intersection? If you commute during rush hour in the Twin Cities, you already know the answer: more than one.

This conundrum is what sparked Henry Liu’s research on how to better manage the flow of traffic at intersections controlled by lights. SMART Signal, a new University of Minnesota startup, will market a system that accurately calculates queue length at signalized intersections. These data, collected in real time and archived in a database, will allow cities to better mediate the flow of traffic at peak times.

“Once you get off the freeway, people have no idea how long it takes to get through lights,” says Ken Shain, president and CEO of SMART Signal. “Because current travel information is based on whether the light is red or green.” Shain hopes to make these travel time data available to drivers. He’s confident the added element of queue length processing will result in more accurate travel time predictions.

The system has already been field tested on three major arterials in Minnesota: Highway 55 in Golden Valley, France Avenue in Bloomington, and Prairie Center Drive in Eden Prairie.