A group of British designers has proposed a new concept of intelligent street in which the asphalt is replaced by intelligent tiles that light up with different configurations, as a digital mosaic. Next to them, a series of sensors located in this new futuristic pavement would detect the type of traffic that is circulating in each moment and adapt the conditions to them.
"Zebra crossings today were designed many decades ago when large cities were very different from today's," explains Usman Haque of Umbrellium, the group behind the idea. "When we hear about new technology for roads, we always think of cars, or autonomous vehicles, or new systems, but we do not want to do that. a pedestrian crossing that gives priority to pedestrians and adapts to their needs"
This new system would be complemented by cameras located in the vicinity that allow identifying the different types of vehicles and the respective addresses of each one. If there are no pedestrians wishing to cross, the zebra crossing would disappear so that the priority is for motor vehicles.
The system would also be able to idenfitify different extraordinary cases. An example proposed by Umbrellium is When you detect a person crossing suddenly, the ground under your feet would light red in several dozens of yards around, to create a sense of alarm in nearby drivers.
At the moment this model only exists in a television studio as a prototype. This is where designers test and choose new operations, and can experiment with reactions in a controlled environment. In Umbrellium they need to do more tests to build a system of digital tiles that are cheap enough, but that also do not modify much the traction aspect in the vehicles. A surface with less friction could cause pedestrians to slip and cars can not stop in time. In case of rain, the complication would be even greater.