Futuristic lamp-posts to manage UK traffic jams

The research team's trial lamppost is fitted with infrared sensors.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory are looking at expanding the ways the humble lamp-post can be used, with plans to improve the UK's traffic management and data services.

Under a research programme called Transport Information Monitoring Environment (TIME), the boffins have already built their own high-tech lamp-post, complete with on-board sensory equipment to measure the urban environment.

Dr David Evans, who is heading up the programme, said of the project "We are already collecting data from our first lamp-post on the main road outside the lab and examining what sort of sensors may be suitable for future projects."

Real-time traffic information

The research team's kitted-out lamp-post currently contains infra-red sensors that are able to count vehicles for traffic monitoring purposes. Dr Evans believes that the deployment of other sensor-equipped lamp-posts across town could benefit local inhabitants with real-time traffic information and offer planners valuable information.

"Lamp-posts are commonplace, physically robust and stationary and already have power available that makes them ideal for building a dense network of sensors throughout cities such as Cambridge," he said.

The University of Cambridge Computer Lab research team's lamp-post currently has facilities to connect with the main laboratory building via a line-of-sight Wi-Fi link. Other possibilities include the use of other networks such as 3G or 4G mobile phone technologies, or the use of multiple lamp-posts to form an ad hoc wireless network.