Can a zebra crossing change its stripes?

Story highlights

  • A smart crossing, powered by artificial intelligence, was installed temporarily in London in October
  • It is part of a wave of smart transport systems around the world that promise to bring safety and convenience

(CNN)Imagine a responsive pedestrian crosswalk that thinks for itself.

During rush hour, it automatically swells to accommodate more pedestrians. At quiet times, it disappears.
If someone is playing on their phone while crossing, a warning pattern would appear on the ground to alert both them and nearby vehicles to the danger.
    That's exactly what London-based tech company Umbrellium has designed: the Starling Crossing is an interactive crosswalk that responds dynamically to its environment.
    And it could be the future of how we interact with our cities.
    "If you look around cities, there is technology dealing with so many different aspects of the way we relate to each other and our urban space," says Usman Haque, founder of Umbrellium.
    "But the crossings that we are familiar with were designed several decades ago, and the way that we use cities is quite different now. It's interesting that the crossing hasn't yet had that kind of update."