The Google Research Initiative recently presented an update at Sustainability ’23 on what it calls Project Green Light, a combination of AI and Google Maps focused on reducing idle time and pollution in urban settings.
Introduced two years ago as a proof of concept in Haifa, Israel at a few intersections in the city, the program has grown to 12 cities and is making recommendations for hundreds of intersections.
Half of all emissions from cars come from starting and stopping, and the grids of intersections in cities often get backed up with traffic lights that aren’t coordinated.
The problem is that city planners often lack the data to make good choices related to groups of intersections and often manage them independently.
This causes issues with vehicle flow which ends up with longer wait times and more stops and starts at busy intersections.
Google estimates that pollution at these busy intersections is 29 times higher than open roads.
By taking the data gathered from Google Maps and optimizing intersections to coordinate with each other with artificial intelligence, Project Green Light has been able to provide a series of recommendations for city planners.
The planners are then able to roll these recommendations out in minutes.
Cities across the globe have been using the system for over a year now including, Haifa, Seattle, Hamburg, Rio de Janeiro, Jakarta, and Manchester, England.
The results are promising with idle time/fuel consumption down between 10 and 20%.
Google is trying to spread the word to get more cities involved and is encouraging city planners to join the program backlist for 2024.