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Springdale uses artificial intelligence traffic signal to ease congestion

The city has been demoing the technology with one light for almost a year.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Some say that traffic is a continuous problem across Northwest Arkansas, but the City of Springdale is hoping to improve traffic flow by using artificial intelligence at their traffic lights.

The traffic signals at the intersection of Wagon Wheel and Thompson in Springdale have been demoing artificial intelligence for about a year, and now they're looking to use the technology all around the city.

“That's a big intersection. So it carries roughly 51,000 vehicles a day. So we want to see how well it worked with heavy traffic,” said James Smith.

James Smith is the City of Springdale’s director of public works. He says the good thing about AI traffic signals is that there is no false detection. With standard detection, he says they just mark a grade on the road, and it will see pixels change, so it gets false detection from things like shadows or clouds which slows the progression of traffic through an intersection.

“Since we've been running this AI unit at that location, there's been zero false detections. So, you'll notice that once you go through it, there's not a green light for a left turn, and there are no cars sitting there. So it's really performed superbly,” he said.

In June, Smith says the city will be testing an even newer AI technology that alerts cars at the intersection that another car could about to be running a red light. He says it will send out a notification if there is a stolen vehicle and alert 911 if there is an accident at the intersection.

“The less time people sit at a stoplight for false detection, the better. This new unit is supposed to communicate between multiple intersections. So, if you have them on a corridor, and they see a whole lot of traffic coming, they communicate amongst themselves to get that traffic on through,” he said.

The Springdale City Council will vote Tuesday, May 23 on purchasing new AI technology for the traffic lights. They hope to replace 10 lights a year until all of them have been updated.

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