Pedestrian Crosswalks Just Got a Serious Upgrade

  • iReviews
  • October 12,2017
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Using the principles of Stigmergy (similar to the pheromone trail ants leave behind to attract other ants toward the best food source path), Umbrellium created a responsive road surface that configures itself in real time to ensure optimal pedestrian, vehicle, and cyclist safety.

Whether it’s the Optic Helmet, the Hovding 2.0, or Tesla’s self-driving feature, automobile and bike manufacturers have been focused on upgrading the technology on the vehicle itself or the helmet rider’s wear instead of improving the safety of the road itself. The Starling Crossing (STigmergic Adaptive Response LearnING Crossing) is a cutting-edge interactive street surface designed to limit distractions for all the key players: drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.


So what makes this road so special? And how does it improve pedestrian safety? Capable of modifying its layout to different roadside conditions, the Starling Crossing comes equipped with a full suite of cameras embedded with computer-controlled LED’s that can be seen from all angles – whether it’s night or day. In other words, this is a super road that is not only slip-free even during torrential downpours but alters its size, layout, and orientation depending on the actions of its walkers/drivers.


“Starling Crossing enhances people’s perceptual awareness without distracting them.”

Starling Crosswalk’s Intelligent Design

Installed temporarily in South London, Starling Crossing is equipped with illuminated display markings that adjust depending upon the objects moving across its surface. The strategically-placed cameras can distinguish between pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles while keeping track of their precise location, trajectories, and velocities.


Whether it’s sunrise (where the morning glare is tough) or late right at dusk (where it’s tough to see street lights), Starling Crossing alters its configuration in real-time to make sure its markings are visible. In the early morning hours, where there’s limited pedestrian traffic, the Starling Crossing may only appear when someone approaches – guiding them across the street. Later in the evening after the concert crowd gets let out, the Starling Crossing expands its width in order to accommodate the sudden uptick in pedestrians crossing.

Improved Pedestrian, Driver, and Cyclist Awareness

As previously mentioned, the Starling Crossing is more than just a pedestrian walkway, it’s road surface technology that keeps drivers aware at all times. In the era of pedestrians texting while crossing, drivers of vehicles need to be alert at all times. Thankfully, the Starling Crossing recognizes when someone is veering from the designated crosswalk lanes into the street. If there’s a car nearby, a warning pattern will light up around the pedestrian filling their field-of-vision and at the same time, notifying the approaching driver that the person is no longer in the designated crosswalk. Both parties are informed at the same time – reducing the dangers of the situation.


“Starling Crossing highlights safety relationships between people and cars so they can make their own decisions.”


Whether it’s a child that unexpectedly runs into the road or a cyclist that ends up in a driver’s blind spot, Starling Crossing’s technology automatically creates a large buffer zone making the person’s trajectory crystal clear to the nearby drivers. It also alerts the child/cyclists to retreat back to a safer zone. The buffer zone is also activated during wet weather conditions or when roadside conditions are poor. The technology is so advanced, it can recognize a vehicle omitting harmful exhaust and direct it away from school crossing zones – protecting children from harmful carbon emissions.


Jaywalking citations may be a thing of the past because Starling Crossing is capable of configuring itself to erratic walking patterns of pedestrians. With the ability to reshape itself into a diagonal/trapezoidal pattern, the Starling Crossing creates a safety buffer zone and follows pedestrians across the street in whatever pattern they choose to get to the other side. Simply put, the Starling Crossing puts people first – enabling them to cross the street safely – even if the approach is a bit whacky.

About Umbrellium

Umbrellium designs and builds technological tools to support citizen empowerment and high-impact engagement in cities. Umbrellium works throughout the world with communities, organizations, urban developments, and city councils to deliver projects using a proven methodology that gets people involved in design activities, decision-making and defining project goals. Their aim is for participants to develop a shared sense of technological enfranchisement and ownership in civic outcomes. When people act together, they are more effective.


They are a team of architects, designers, tactical urbanists and creative technologists with years of proven experience in designing and deploying award-winning participatory platforms like (the world’s largest open Internet of Things data repository and community when it was acquired by LogMeIn Inc in 2011) and mass-participation urban spectacles like the Burble (which won London’s Design Museum Design of the Year Award in 2008).


Source: Umbrellium