‘Robot’ technology employed to ease China’s notorious traffic jams

Machines used to switch lanes and direct the flow of traffic in Shenzhen, newspaper reports

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 10:34am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 11:54am

Robots in China are already sorting packages and helping to teach children, but now they are also managing the country’s notorious traffic.

Shenzhen traffic police has debuted a new “lane robot” – the first of its kind in the country – according to the Guangzhou Daily.

The technology used at Shennan Road, the city’s major east-west thoroughfare, helps administer “reversible lanes” where the direction of traffic can be switched around depending on the conditions such as rush-hour periods.

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The “lane robot” is a guard rail that can move to alter the flow of traffic into different lanes.

Shennan Road is known for its morning traffic jams, with the number of cars travelling west to east almost double the number in the opposite direction at that time of day.

Police realised it made sense to open up more lanes going in that direction in the morning to ease congestion.

A team of officers manually directed traffic in this way in December and congestion was noticeably eased, traffic police head Wang Le was quoted as saying.

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The new “lane robot” reduces the workload on police as it can move between lanes to alter the flow of traffic in less than a minute.

During the trial run of the technology, the speed and flow of traffic was greatly improved, the newspaper reported. The morning rush hour ended at about 9am, compared with the usual 10am.

Meanwhile, in Wuhan in Hubei province, the authorities have installed automatic safety gates to prevent pedestrians from jaywalking, according to the China News Service.

The city put up six safety gates that will automatically open and close based on the colour of nearby traffic lights, the report said.