USDOT funding helps Migma develop innovative pedestrian and cyclist detection system


Migma Systems Inc. has used finance from a US Department of Transportation (USDOT) funding program to develop an innovative pedestrian detection and counting technology to provide urban planners, designers and transportation agencies a better understanding of their traffic systems.

The USDOT’s highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program awards contracts to small businesses to develop and deploy innovative, effective, efficient solutions to the USA’s transportation challenges. Small businesses participating in the SBIR program have already developed numerous technologies that have benefitted USDOT and the travelling public. Now being showcased by the USDOT as a ‘SBIR Success Story’, the funding award has benefited Massachusetts-based Migma Systems by providing the support necessary for product development and testing.

Migma’s technology, the MigmaCount, uses a combination of a high-resolution infrared light-emitting diode (IR LED) camera and a laser scanner to separate and count pedestrians and cyclists traveling individually and in groups.

MigmaCount can tally small or large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists heading in two directions simultaneously, with over 95% accuracy. The company’s unique sensor can separate walkers and cyclists traveling in groups, which cannot be done with commonly used video camera technology, and has been designed to meet the traffic engineering requirements for pedestrian and bicycles detection and counting in an outdoor environment.

Accurate counts of pedestrians and cyclists at intersections are important for traffic system planning and design, as they can inform investments and improve performance in infrastructure that support and encourage mobility and accessibility. Traditionally, pedestrians and cyclists are counted manually, which is both time-consuming and costly.

Because of these concerns, many transportation agencies collect data for only a few peak hours. Migma’s automated counting system for pedestrians and cyclists can provide real-time counts over a long period of time, including nights, weekends and holidays, thus providing transportation agencies a better understanding of traffic systems.

In addition to counting pedestrians and cyclists, the Migma technology also provides measures at various intervals such as 15-minute segments, and includes pedestrian and cyclist volume at different times and their average traveling speeds.

Migma has entered the commercial stage of development, with final field evaluation at a busy intersection with over 1,000 pedestrians per hour. The technology has a number of specializations, such as MigmaPedCount and MigmaCount Solar, which refine the capabilities of the technology for different environments and needs.

“The most exciting part of our technology is the fusion of both stereo camera and laser scanner,” explained Bo Ling, the project’s principle investigator and CEO of Migma Systems.

“This innovative technology makes it possible to separate a large number of pedestrians walking closely, which has not been solved until now. The business contacts provided by USDOT project managers are extremely valuable. Without SBIR, it is impossible to bring this exciting technology to the commercial world.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).