SHIFT INTO THE FAST LANE

WITH SPE­CIAL RA­DIOS FIT­TED IN VE­HI­CLES, COM­MUTE TIME COULD BE SIG­NIF­I­CANTLY RE­DUCED, ES­PE­CIALLY DUR­ING RUSH HOURS.

Business Today - - THE BREAKOUT ZONE -

IN­NO­VA­TIONS TO im­prove the good old traf­fic light have been few and far be­tween. One of these, re­cently pi­lot-tested in Ham­burg, in­volves light as­sis­tants that show driv­ers rec­om­mended speeds for dif­fer­ent phases of the road ahead so that the jour­ney means less stop­ping at traf­fic sig­nals and a smoother, more fuel-ef­fi­cient ride. Enough data has been col­lected for the project to be im­ple­mented, rec­om­mend­ing green times to driv­ers.

In Los An­ge­les, a sys­tem of in­tel­li­gent traf­fic lights is planned for 1,500 in­ter­sec­tions. Touted as a so­lu­tion for smart cities, it in­volves a large con­trol cabi­net that will help the lights adapt to sit­u­a­tions and con­trol guide lights for bikes, cross­walks and more. Port­land, too, is test­ing a sys­tem to re­duce wait­ing time. In­dia is also sup­posed to get Ja­panese traf­fic lights fit­ted with 360-de­gree cam­eras so that these can look around and ad­just ‘go’ time.

A group of re­searchers, led by R. Zhang at the Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity in Pitts­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia, has demon­strated an in­tel­li­gent trans­porta­tion sys­tem (ITS) where traf­fic lights are ac­ti­vated by ded­i­cated short-range com­mu­ni­ca­tion (DSRC) ra­dios fit­ted in ve­hi­cles. The idea is to re­duce travel or com­mute time sig­nif­i­cantly, es­pe­cially dur­ing rush hours. The out­come re­ported in a re­search pa­per claims that the over­all per­for­mance of the sys­tem is su­pe­rior to cur­rent traf­fic con­trol even when only 20 per cent of the city ve­hi­cles are equipped with the ra­dios.

The re­search group also points out that the tra­di­tional ITS em­ploys in­tel­li­gent in­ter­sec­tions that can de­tect ve­hi­cles by us­ing loop de­tec­tors, mag­netic de­tec­tors or cam­eras, and then ac­tu­ates traf­fic lights ac­cord­ingly. But these so­lu­tions are costly and hence, could not be scaled in most cities over the past three decades. In con­trast, new ve­hi­cles with pre­in­stalled DSRC ra­dios can eas­ily en­able ve­hi­cle-to-in­fra­struc­ture (V2I) com­mu­ni­ca­tions based on a ve­hi­cle-de­tec­tion method, which would make the sys­tem vi­able. More­over, this one has sev­eral ben­e­fits com­pared to other de­tec­tion meth­ods. First, it is a ro­bust sys­tem that can deal with bright­ness, il­lu­mi­na­tion and weather con­di­tions. Sec­ond, it is easy to im­ple­ment and main­tain. There are other DSRC-based so­lu­tions, but un­like this sys­tem, they re­quire every ve­hi­cle to be fit­ted with a ra­dio, again adding to costs.

Field tri­als show that the new sys­tem can sense ve­hi­cles con­tin­u­ously when they are more than 100m away from an in­ter­sec­tion. This fea­ture also sup­ports the vi­a­bil­ity of the new sens­ing tech­nol­ogy for in­tel­li­gent in­ter­sec­tions.

IN­DIA IS SUP­POSED TO GET JA­PANESE TRAF­FIC LIGHTS FIT­TED WITH 360- DE­GREE CAM­ERAS SO THAT THESE CAN LOOK AROUND AND AD­JUST ‘ GO’ TIME

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY RAJ VERMA

New ve­hi­cles with pre-in­stalled DSRC ra­dios can eas­ily en­able ve­hi­cle-to-in­fra­struc­ture com­mu­ni­ca­tions based on a ve­hi­cle-de­tec­tion method, which would make the sys­tem vi­able Field tri­als show that the new sys­tem can sense ve­hi­cles con­tin­u­ously when they are more than 100m away from an in­ter­sec­tion. This fea­ture also sup­ports the vi­a­bil­ity of the new sens­ing tech­nol­ogy for in­tel­li­gent in­ter­sec­tions

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