A fancy pedestrian crossing that alerts drivers when a passer-by dashes out into the road unexpectedly has been unveiled.
The Starling Crossing is a responsive road surface dreamed up by Umbrellium, which says "puts people first" and updates the pedestrian crossing for the 21st century.
It uses familiar road markings and colours, but reacts in real time to different conditions, and can adapt accordingly. The entire road surface at the crossing is monitored by cameras and embedded with computer-controlled LEDs that can be seen from all angles, day or night.
And yes, it remains slip-free in pouring rain too.
Drawing on research from the Transport Research Laboratory, the prototype was temporarily installed in South London. It was commissioned by insurer Direct Line and addresses how some 7,000 incidents recorded at pedestrian crossings each year could be tackled.
Cameras track objects moving across the road surface and distinguish between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. Early in the morning, the Starling Crossing may only appear when someone approaches as there are few pedestrians about, guiding them to the crossing location it has learned is safest.
Later on, when many people may need to cross at the same time, it automatically expands in width to accommodate increased pedestrian traffic. And cyclists get extra warnings when pedestrians are hidden by tall vehicles.
If it's a dangerous situation, say when a person dashes across the street but they're in a driver's blindspot, the crossing adapts in real time to draw their attention directly to the pedestrian's location and trajectory.
Umbrellium said: "The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today's technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way."