Le Monde, a French newspaper, interviewed Rapid Flow founder Stephen Smith after Surtrac won the 2017 Le Monde International Smart City Innovation Award for Mobility.
The interview opens with Smith discussing the development of Surtrac intelligent traffic signal control and, unlike traditional traffic control systems, its ability to adapt to real time traffic changes on a second-by-second basis. In addition to performing well on suburban corridors, Surtrac is also able to optimize traffic flows on complex grid networks with dynamic traffic patterns, often found in urban environments.
Smith notes that the technology works by sensing approaching vehicles and building a plan in real time to maximize the flow of traffic through the intersection. Additionally, the computer at the intersection communicates with its neighbors so they can better anticipate oncoming traffic, and coordinate their individual plans, as needed, for optimal traffic flow.
In discussing the history of the technology, Smith mentions the first field test in June 2012 at nine intersections in Pittsburgh. Physical drive-throughs and GPS trackers allowed Smith and his team to analyze the impact of the technology on drivers. Overall, the Surtrac adaptive signal control system reduced travel times by 25%. Cars were stopping 30% less often and emissions were estimated to have dropped by 20%.
With the success of the initial field test, Surtrac received additional funding and experienced the same results in other test locations around Pittsburgh. The technology is now installed across fifty intersections across Pittsburgh with plans to install another 100-200 smart traffic signals at intersections across the city as part of a federal funding program. Surtrac is now in use in other US cities including Atlanta and Portland Maine, among others.
You can watch the full interview here: