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Poorly timed traffic lights don’t just waste precious minutes. Like Google’s chief sustainability officer Kate Brandt pointed out at a media event yesterday, they’re also bad for the environment and public health. The company unveiled a slew of sustainability-centric products and updates today that aim to help users make more informed, environmentally friendly decisions. But it’s also been working on a project that could use AI to make traffic lights more efficient and, as a result, decrease pollution in general.
When your vehicle stops at an intersection, that idling time leads to wasted fuel and “more street-level air pollution,” Brandt said. Google’s new project would use AI to measure and calculate traffic conditions and timing at a city’s intersections, then time them more efficiently. Brandt said one of the company’s AI research groups has been able to accurately calculate and gather this data and train a model to optimize inefficient intersections.