Electricity distribution firm UK Power Networks in collaboration with Kent County Council and The Traffic Group has started testing of smart traffic lights in Maidstone.

Developed by AGD Systems, the new Auto-Green system is expected to enhance traffic flow by up to 24% while reducing pollution and operational costs.

Based on radar technology, the system is capable of automatically adjusting signals to suit the volume of traffic, reducing wait times for drivers.

Tracking vehicle movements in real-time, the new system uses this information to optimise the operation of the traffic signals, as well as change the decision-making algorithms and timings.

“By applying smart technology, we may be able to reduce the impact of essential roadworks in our local communities.”

UK Power Networks streetworks performance manager Paul Dooley said: “This is the first trial in Kent using this technology, which we hope will improve journeys by optimising the length of time for traffic lights to be green.

“Sometimes we need to dig up roads to install, upgrade or repair underground power cables and temporary traffic lights are usually necessary to ensure the safe passage of road users around these sites.

“We are always looking for ways to improve services and by applying smart technology, we may be able to reduce the impact of essential roadworks in our local communities while also cutting emissions from having fewer vehicle engines idling.”

According to its developer, the Auto-Green system can also work better than manual traffic light control, often used on traffic sensitive roads.

The Kent Lane Rental Innovation Fund is financing the project to help understand the potential benefits of the new technology. Trials have already been carried out in Essex, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire.

If the outcomes of the trials are found to be satisfactory, the new smart traffic system could be installed across the county and the other areas served by UK Power Networks, in future.