Derby City Council uses artificial intelligence to create smart highways

Derby City Council is rolling out cutting edge smart technology to the city’s road network.

The £52,484 project, awarded through a competition process from the Department of Transport, will use Computer Vision, a branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automatically detect the position and condition of road signs across the city in real-time.

Early trials of this pioneering technology will use a dash mounted mobile phone to create a digital map of Derby’s road sign inventory.

This will then be uploaded to specialist software that will learn to recognise the signs and enable us to detect, on future runs, if a particular sign has been damaged, missing or is in need of repair.

This kind of project has previously been undertaken in Norway and Finland where the software was tested and found to be around 98% accurate.

We will then assess whether cameras already installed on our refuse collection vehicles can be used for this same purpose and provide continually updated footage.

It is also hoped that Computer Vision technology will eventually mean our bin lorries, with cameras already on them can help to alert Highways Maintenance to these defects as well as other issues, including potholes.

Councillor Asaf Afzal, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and public protection commented: “This project will allow the Council to manage its highway assets in a smarter, more efficient way.

“Our roads are the biggest asset we own, so it’s important we find new and innovative ways to manage them and keep Derby movingThe project is being undertaken in partnership with Vaisala Ltd and ISS Ltd who both already support the Council through winter maintenance and waste management operations .

“To have the support of these two enterprises working in partnership with us makes for a truly exciting venture. Being able to showcase connected vehicles using our own refuse fleet, we hope to exploit every opportunity to make efficiencies using our front line services.”