Transportation networks in major cities around the world are stressed by the increasing population and urbanisation, and the corresponding rise in the number of vehicles, leading to higher traffic congestion and increased travel time.
Limitations in altering the existing transportation infrastructure can be dealt with by implementing intelligent, integrated and effective traffic management solutions.
Devices built on embedded technology can aid in the development of smarter, integrated, efficient and inter-connected devices for a smarter traffic management system. Embedded technology can not only make road transportation more intelligent but also save lives, time and money by reducing congestion, improving safety and minimising vehicle fuel consumption and emissions.
Efficient traffic management is governed by several factors including the management of signals at road intersections.
Standalone controllers regulate traffic lights at each intersection in traditional traffic management systems. These controllers work on a simple switching mechanism that controls the traffic lights based on a pre-set interval, and are manually adjustable for peak, normal or low-traffic conditions.
Since traffic configurations change constantly and the controllers work independently, they can seriously hinder smooth traffic flow.
Interconnected and intelligent Traffic Management Systems (TMS) provide the ideal solution since the centrally operated TMS will ensure that traffic signals work in tandem and complement each other to achieve smoother traffic flow.
Intelligent devices built on embedded technology can significantly improve the interoperability and help in the creation of an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS).
Designed to coordinate the operation of all traffic signals to achieve seamless traffic management, the ATMS is based on a control mechanism at each intersection with the capability to analyse traffic and decide when to turn the traffic lights on or off. The interconnected controllers are connected as part of a network to a central control system that will enable easier coordination of signals and ensure smoother flow of traffic.
Components of Advanced Traffic Management Systems
Deployed at signals to detect the density of traffic, multiple sensors can be used to detect motion, density and number of vehicles to understand the nature of traffic and determine the timing of the signals.
Advanced sensors built on embedded technology such as induction-based and proximity-based sensors can detect not only the volume of traffic but also the type and number of each category of vehicles.
The control mechanism employed at each intersection will decide the timing of each signal for each direction of the intersection based on the inputs received from the traffic sensors, the Central Control System or from other controllers at adjoining intersections in the ATMS network.
Embedded technology will enable these systems to be programmed to include complex algorithms to analyse the inputs and determine the exact time and duration for each signal.
Seamless operation is facilitated by interconnecting the control mechanism with other control mechanisms in the ATMS and the central computer using wired or wireless networks.
The embedded system platform allows the control mechanism to be easily interfaced with both wired as well as wireless networks. Signal switching is coordinated perfectly by the control mechanism at each intersection through information received from other control mechanisms in the network as well as the central computer.
Central Control System
The Central Control System (CCS) is the core of the ATMS and can be hosted at a centralised location where designated personnel can view and manage traffic operations.
In addition to traffic signal control, CCS also offers wide-ranging surveillance capabilities, including various kinds of traffic detection and video surveillance as well as providing powerful traffic-control algorithms, including the potential for adaptive control and predictive surveillance.
Major tasks of the Central Control System:
- Manage the master database
- Manage traffic light switch sequence
- Communicate with the control mechanism at each intersection
- Display data including real-time view of traffic parameters
- Prepare reports of traffic data to aid planning and analysis
- Enhanced signal coordination
- Better demand prediction of traffic cycles and trends in movement
- Reduced carbon emissions
- Increased operational efficiencies through enhanced traffic management
- Faster transit for emergency services such as ambulance, fire and security services through timely traffic diversion
- Enhanced safety for commuters and pedestrians through smooth flow of traffic
- Improved traveller experience through seamless traffic movements
Efficient traffic management clearly offers several benefits including faster travel, better quality of life, cleaner environment and increased economic viability.
Traffic management systems such as the SCATS (Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System) from the Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales, Australia have proven that effective and flawless management of traffic can be achieved by advanced thinking, strategic planning and integrated execution.
The increasing stress on modern road systems and transportation networks however demands solutions that facilitate quick decision-making for smoother flow of traffic.
The use of embedded devices with in-built intelligence can ensure that systems such as SCATS can effectively adapt themselves to the growing demands of traffic management in cities across the globe.
LX Group is an award-winning electronics design company specialising in embedded systems and wireless technology design.