Chattanooga Department of Transportation workers install lidar devices at the intersection of M.L. King Boulevard and Georgia Avenue.

A safer city from the pedestrian perspective is the promise of a new partnership between the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Center for Urban Informatics and Progress, the Chattanooga Department of Transportation and two global leaders in traffic monitoring and managing technology.

Seoul Robotics, a Korea-based, worldwide developer of software that interacts with lidar—using 3D object detection technology—and Ouster, a San Francisco manufacturer of lidar, are working with the University’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress, or CUIP, and city transportation officials on the project. Using Ouster’s lidar sensors and Seoul Robotics’ perception software, SENSR™, in conjunction with existing MLK Smart Corridor sensors, the result is expected to be a clearer picture of how pedestrians and vehicles interact.

Lidar sensors and perception software create extremely accurate, 3D representations of the physical environment, enabling researchers to better understand vehicular and pedestrian traffic patterns where potential danger exists. In 2018, Hamilton County recorded 100 pedestrian injuries and 10 pedestrian fatalities.

“We continue to find ways to work with CUIP and industry partners to further our goal of a safer, smarter Chattanooga,” said Chattanooga Smart Cities Director Kevin Comstock. “We know that technology, data and collaboration can help us reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities.”

New lidar sensors will be located in two downtown intersections: M.L. King Boulevard and Market Street and M.L. King Boulevard and Georgia Avenue. These locations were selected for their close proximity to city parks and event spaces and their high volume of pedestrian activity.

“Collaboration is critical within the smart cities community. All of our work is focused on a common good, which leads to a constant flow of progress and innovation to research and technologies,” said CUIP Director Mina Sartipi. “This specific collaboration will give us the ability to make our city much safer for pedestrians.”

Seoul Robotics and Ouster have created an approach to detect, track and predict the movement of pedestrians and vehicles. It will identify potential incidents such as auto accidents and wrong-way driving, improve understanding of traffic flow and suggest reroutes. The lidar-based solution will augment existing camera infrastructure, enhancing accuracy and detail of safety data while preserving pedestrians’ privacy.

“Lidar and other 3D data solutions have the potential to make cities safer for both pedestrians and drivers, but for too long the technology has been inaccessible due to cost and the need for affordable, sensor agnostic software. Our technology is changing that,” said HanBin Lee, co-founder and CEO of Seoul Robotics. “This installation with the City of Chattanooga and CUIP represents the future of smart cities and will be instrumental in showcasing to other cities around the world how insights from 3D data can fuel a more efficient and safer society.”

Barrs Lang, general manager of Americas at Ouster, praised CUIP and the city for embracing cutting-edge technology to enhance safety in Chattanooga.

“Lidar has great potential to both reduce accidents and increase efficiency by powering smart city infrastructure. CUIP and the City of Chattanooga are setting a leading example for the country in how to unlock this potential,” Lang said. “This project is just the beginning, and we’re looking forward to working closely together to build a safer, smarter Chattanooga.”

Media Relations Contacts: Email UTC Media Relations or call 423-425-5119.

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

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