Wirelessly gathered road vehicle data for traffic control and other applications.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment


It is understood that wireless communication links between road vehicles and infrastructure will be commonplace in the near future. Such links will lead to the availability of a rich new data source potentially containing real time position and speed data (among others) for some or all vehicles on the UK road network. This is known as localization probe data. The availability of this new data source creates business opportunities to develop tools that manage, store, and process these data for applications. An application of particular interest is Urban Traffic Control (UTC). There are a large number of existing data sources that currently provide useful information for UTC. These include direct measurement data, for example from inductive loops and cameras. They also include data that are informative of the expected levels of demand on the system, for example shipping timetables and event schedules. Currently these data sources are not fully unified and it would be desirable to fuse them. Similarly there are data sources, such as smart phone data, that are present but not fully utilised. The aim in exploiting these multiple data sources is to create a single coherent image of the state of the network. It is important that the new localization probe data does not become an additional disparate source of information, but is combined with already available data sources to generate an image of the network state that can be employed in UTC and other applications. The technical objective of this research project is to create a city centre sized microscopic traffic simulation model, where wireless communication between vehicles and infrastructure is modelled and thus simulated localization probe data are generated. Simulated data from existing sources will also be generated and validated against the available historical data. The simulated data will then be used in prototype model Urban Traffic Control systems that will implement control directly in the simulation. Thus the simulator becomes a proving ground for the development of techniques to process and analyse these data and for novel traffic control methods using these data. Also the simulator will be used to analyse the efficacy of prototype traffic control systems and compare them with existing methods, thus enabling a quantitative analysis of the economic value of this new data source and these new techniques in the transport sector. An important aspect of the solution to the UTC problem is to develop software tools for processing, refining and visualizing the data to present human traffic controllers with a single coherent image of the state of the network. The software development aspect of the project will be extended to develop some general processing and visualisation tools for applications other than UTC. These applications would include research applications where, for example the data could be used for pollution monitoring. They would also include legislative monitoring where key performance indicators can be extracted from the data. They would also include value added services to the general public, such as real-time travel information. The principal outputs of the project will be new methods and techniques for collecting and processing new localization
Proposal original proforma document
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data, fusing it with existing data and employing it in UTC. This will include patents for both data management technologies and new UTC technologies. Also output will be software tools to analyse process and visualise these data. Because there is a market for these data in areas other than signal control, general software for data refinement and visualisation will also be produced for marketing to third parties.

Planned Impact

The main benefit of the proposed work in the long term will be the smoothing of traffic flow and the reduction of delay in vehicle journeys. The 2006 Eddington Transport Study states that a 5% reduction in delay across all road journeys in the UK is worth £2.5bn to the UK economy. Simulation work carried out by the Transportation Research Group at the University of Southampton, focussing on signalized junctions, has indicated that significant delay reduction may be possible if localization probe data are employed in signal control. Alongside the economic benefits of improved network operation are environmental benefits. Road transport is a significant carbon emitter producing 75% of emissions from the transport sector, which itself is responsible for 14% of the UK's emissions according to the 2006 Stern review. So reducing vehicle emissions through smoothing flow and shortening journey times will have a significant impact on carbon emissions. In addition to the benefits to Urban Traffic Control described above, further impact will be enabled through the general processing and visualization tools. These will give third parties access to important data and information about the state of the road network in a useful form. This will enable the study of traffic movement with a depth and resolution far greater than anything that has been done before. Such provision of information can lead to new understandings and strategies to combat emissions and improve flow. Similarly the data processing and visualization tools will enable improved monitoring and evaluation of the network by producing key performance indicators. These will improve the quantitative analysis of road network performance and feed back into network design. Another application would be the provision of accurate and useful real time travel information to the general public, with associated economic benefits. The above examples of how third parties may make use of the data processing and visualization tools are by no means the limit. It is probable that there are future applications for these data, with their own impact, that the project partners have not even considered. The benefit of developing these as general tools and openly marketing them is that they can enable such applications. Control of the road transport network is often an exemplar for analogous network control problems. Fundamental algorithms and approaches developed during this project will be disseminated through the usual academic channels of journal and conference papers. In addition, output of this work will be linked up with a separately funded Transportation Research Group project to develop an interactive portable display that showcases
Description The project aimed to develop an approach to unify the contrasting characteristics of different sources of real time road traffic data to create a single instance of truth. This was achieved.

In parallel to this the project also developed new methods of displaying real time traffic information (including the single instance of truth) to network managers.
Exploitation Route The approaches used to unify the contrasting data sources have been published in academic papers and are broadly applicable to any circumstance where contrasting information is being received from multiple sources about the same underlying system state.
Sectors Energy,Environment,Transport

Description This project was undertaken in collaboration with Siemens (mobility division). The key processes developed relating to (a) the generation of a 'Single Instance of Truth' representing the underlying state of a road network and (b) approaches for improved visualisation of the network state have been taken forward within Siemens commercial development processes.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Transport
Title A method and device for displaying traffic data 
Description A method of visually representing traffic flow parameters comprises selecting an area of interest on a map, defining cells within the area of interest and extracting data relating to a traffic flow parameter for each cell. A three dimensional representation of a first traffic flow parameter is applied to the map in the cells in the area of interest and the map is displayed with the three dimensional representation of the traffic flow parameter. The method further comprises extracting data relating to a further traffic flow parameter for each cell; applying to the map in the area of interest an alternative representation of the further traffic flow parameter; and displaying the map with the alternative representation and the three dimensional representation. The alternative representation comprises rendering the degree of transparency to be proportional to the parameter being displayed. 
IP Reference WO2015091167 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2015
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact Being taken forward in commercial development by project partner
Title Method for state estimation of a road network 
Description According to the invention, a method for state estimation of a road network is proposed which comprises at least the steps of gathering information from at least two sensors, wherein at least one sensor for detection radio signals, combining the information from the at least two sensors using an Extended Kalman Filter, and determining at least one state in a discretised road network using the combined information. 
IP Reference WO2013110815 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2013
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact Being taken forward in commercial development by project partner