Traffic Lights Could Become Obsolete with Self-Driving Cars

Traffic Lights Could Become Obsolete with Self-Driving Cars

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A recently conducted UK study suggests that there might not be any use for traffic lights in a world filled with autonomous vehicles. The successful trial of autonomous cars operating on the streets of London might indicate that traffic lights will become a thing of the past.

For the past three years, the research project ServCity has been working to understand how to help cities successfully incorporate autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies into a complex urban environment, creating a blueprint of the type of infrastructure that will be required. And it has come up with some interesting findings – including the potential future role of traffic lights.

As part of the trial, 270 camera were installed along a predetermined route which relayed information to two autonomous cars regarding any potential issues they would have to navigate around, such as buses, bicycle riders and other possible disturbances, as was reported on by

In an interview with the UK’s PA Media agency, Thomas Tompkin, Head of Network Infrastructure and Operations at Smart Mobility Living Lab said it showed that “a seismic shift in the way our roads are laid out” is possible.

“If we think about maybe 20 or 30 years’ time, can you start to then think about the infrastructure outside? Can you start to remove some of that infrastructure such as traffic signals?” Tompkin asks.

The thinking is that driverless cars will be clever enough to manage traffic flow themselves. And while acknowledging there is plenty of work to be done before this could materialize, it isn’t the first time the role of traffic lights has been called into question in a landscape where AVs are common.

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