For the first time in a century, traffic lights are getting an upgrade, said Tal Kreisler, co-founder and CEO of NoTraffic — an autonomous, AI-driven, cloud-based upgrade.
“If I’m taking you to a journey a hundred years back, traffic lights look like they are today, and they were operating according to exactly the same technology,” Kreisler said. “That’s becoming a problem because we have more and more and more vehicles on the road; congestion is increasing 12% every year. And we don’t have a lot of room to build more lanes and more roads. What we can do is utilize the infrastructure we have in a better way.”
In 2017, Kreisler and his co-founders, Uriel Katz and Or Sela, set out to revolutionize how cities manage the flow of traffic. NoTraffic offers cities and states a suite of hardware and software solutions, including a network of cameras, an artificial intelligence engine and a cloud-based data dashboard that monitors the number of vehicles on the road and autonomously operates traffic lights, reducing congestion and alerting city staff to traffic accidents and other problems on the road.
“We’re managing the network in a much more efficient way, providing a great benefit to the city, and making all of our lives much better and safer,” Kreisler said.
The inspiration for NoTraffic came to co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Uriel Katz in 2011, when he found himself waiting in an intersection alone in the middle of the night, waiting for a green light. He thought there had to be a better solution.
“If there is an accident or any abnormal events, citizens have to report it to the city,” Kreisler said. “We are in 2020, we sent a man to the moon, and we still have to report about intersections not working or stand alone in an intersection in the middle of the night wondering why it’s not being solved yet.”
Today, the company has headquarters in Palo Alto, California, and Tel Aviv, Israel, and its system has been adopted by cities in California, Arizona and Ohio, and it has offices in Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania.
In August, the City of Phoenix launched a pilot program to test out NoTraffic’s system at five intersections along Glendale Avenue between Central Avenue and Arizona State Route 51. Data from the project, which is part of the Maricopa Association of Governments’ emerging technology initiative, will be evaluated by researchers at the University of Arizona.
The installation in Phoenix was “a great collaboration with the city,” Kreisler said. “The entire region actually has managed to position itself as a very innovative region, very open-minded people at the forefront of technology.”
NoTraffic is part of the “mobility revolution,” he said, which includes innovations in autonomous vehicles and fleet management, and is positioning itself as a key part of that revolution in the U.S.
“This whole combination, this whole ecosystem is starting to evolve, and we are part of this ecosystem, a fundamental part,” Kreisler said. The company’s decision to focus on the U.S. market is “related to the maturity of the market in terms of wanting to improve and bring new technology, harness new technology.” But the company’s Israeli roots can still be seen in its values.
“What is important is what kind of DNA you inject. How do you create your company in a way that will reflect your agenda and the DNA that you want to add to it?” Kreisler said. “It’s less about where the company is based, but it’s more about the values that you want to create ... I think that people are the most important thing. We are believing in people: customers, partners, employees — no matter what.”
NoTraffic currently has a staff of three in Arizona to monitor systems remotely and alert government partners in real time when issues arise. In the future, Kreisler sees the Arizona office as serving as a hub for the entire region.
“We already established the core, but we’re going to expand it. We’re going to open a massive network operation center that will support our national operation from Arizona,” Kreisler said.
The company’s growth in Arizona was made possible not only by the City of Phoenix, but by partnerships with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Maricopa Association of Governments. Seeing the level of support for technological innovation that exists in the state, Kreisler said, motivates NoTraffic to keep growing.
“All of them are assisting us a lot — very open, very excited — which is what gives us the drive to run forward,” Kreisler said. “When you see that people are excited about what you bring to the table ...
that’s amazing.” JN