Makerversity x Direct Line: Hack the Pedestrian Crossing
In October 2017, Direct Line developed the world’s smartest pedestrian crossing. The Smart Crossing spanned 22m of responsive road surface, using computer vision technology to “see” exactly what happened around it, and an LED road surface to change its markings to keep users safe.
The crossing was especially developed to expand to accommodate larger swells of crossers – like those outside a school or football ground, to adapt to sudden or dangerous use of the crossing – such as a child running out, and to keep the head-down generation safe whilst they scroll.
The response from consumers highlighted a genuine demand for a new crossing solution, but also highlighted weaknesses in terms of feasibility, affordability and fit for all user types. So, Direct Line approached us to help develop an updated solution. We asked our members to go back to the drawing board and build on elements of the existing design in a new, exciting and ultimately realistic way.
After a community-wide callout, we invited four teams to pitch their ideas. Common Works, Joris Lam, Humanising Autonomy and Mettle all put forward some amazing concepts including haptic paving that vibrates to alert to the surface change between pavement and road – and computer vision cameras to detect and learn crossing behaviours.
In the end, a panel of six chose Mettle’s design, Line of Sight, to receive the funding to develop their idea in a week-long sprint. Their winning design utilised person detection technology to illuminate a strip of reactive LED lighting which changed colour to alert road users of a pedestrian’s presence and intention to cross the road.
They spent the week prototyping in our workshops, running live tests on location, and installing a to-scale (to the millimetre!) pedestrian crossing in Somerset House on which we all live-tested their final prototype.
You can read more about their hyper intensive week here, and we’re super excited to see where this could go next – but in the meantime thanks to Direct Line for making all this possible! We loved working with you again.