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CES 2024: Using lidar to reduce traffic accidents

09 January 2024
Lidar combined with software from Outsight is used to develop a long-lasting framework for road safety in the city of Bellevue, Washington where it identified most traffic issues involve pedestrians or bicyclists. Source: Outsight

The city of Bellevue, Washington, conducted a project using lidar and software from Outsight to help eliminate traffic deaths and serious injury collisions on city streets.

The results of the project were revealed at CES 2024 in Las Vegas this week.

According to the city of Bellevue, 55% of all fatal and serious crashes involve a pedestrian or a cyclist. Many of these accidents are due to the failure of vehicles to yield to pedestrians. The goal of the project was to eliminate traffic deaths on city streets by 2030.

Bellevue is using a range of physical and digital solutions like lidar combined with Outsight’s software to develop a lasting framework for road safety. This includes the design, infrastructure and systemic issues behind crashes as well as carrying out progress assessments across all domains.

Smart city adoption

And the technology may be the key to opening a host of innovations in smart cities to help improve the safety of pedestrians by reducing fatalities and serious injuries.

According to Raul Bravo, CEO and founder of Outsight, Bellevue’s post-implementation analysis of the project, the Outsight solution led to a substantial reduction in dangerous events involving pedestrians and bicyclists in the city. This could lead to more smart cities adopting the technology to save lives and improve safety.

“In 2024, we anticipate a marked surge in interest and practical deployment of our technologies among numerous municipalities,” said Raul Bravo, CEO and founder of Outsight. “This trend reflects a growing recognition of the transformative potential and efficiency gains our solutions and lidar overall offer.”

Why software is important

Bravo said because there are so many lidar vendors, one unified standard is not available. This is where specialized software will become significantly important in smart cities. Municipalities can choose any manufacturer and model of lidar they want, and the software will work in these cities to help safety.

“Lidar data [is] inherently different from camera images designed for direct human interpretation,” Bravo said. “[This] isn't immediately comprehensible to people. This is why it's a natively anonymous technology. Unlike computer vision software for cameras, which is a great but not essential addition, lidar software is critical for the practical use of the technology.”

How they did it

The solution Bellevue used did not contain cameras or facial identification but was able to classify and detect various road users — pedestrians, vehicles, bicycles — throughout the day. Much of the data collection was done at night since lidar does not need lighting to perform accurately.

The technology helped the city to identify potential conflict situations and test and collect actionable data such as the deployment of high-visibility crosswalks.

Outsight’s software allowed data to be collected quickly and maximize the lidar sensors over different situations and terrains.

The results of the project — which took place over the period of a year — saw lidar helping to reduce the incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians. It also improved incidents happening between two vehicles in regards to read-end collisions and opposing approaches.

CES 2024 takes place this week in Las Vegas.

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