Traficon, a leader in video based traffic detection systems, co-ordinated this project called WATCHBIRD. The aim of the project was to use and evaluate a new video-detector chip for detecting the presence of vehicles and pedestrians near traffic lights. The detector chip and the microprocessor were integrated in the camera housing. The output of the Watchbird was connected to an interface box that communicates with the traffic light controller.
Apart from Traficon other partners in the Watchbird project included IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) which developed the Video sensor, CRIF/WTCM which develops video detection algorithms, the Flemish Ministry of Transport, Monitron (GB) and Ko Hartog (NL), which tested and integrated the prototypes in their Traffic light controller systems and provided feedback from the market.
Watchbird was based on a new image sensor, developed by IMEC, which has some specific characteristics that can improve the existing video detection systems. The imager has a very large range of sensitivity and is fully addressable so that only the part of the image that is needed, has to be worked upon. This should result in a very reliable sensor for traffic light controllers. Another advantage is the additional capability to detect pedestrians, which could improve the safety around traffic lights, especially for disabled and elderly people who need more time to cross the road. Furthermore, the price and the high MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) will also make the product very attractive and promising from an economical point of view.