Researchers developing sensor-based system for managing traffic flow at intersections

Researchers developing sensor-based system for managing traffic flow at intersec

In an attempt to make traffic lights go with the flow, a team at the Dresden University of Technology is working on a sensor-based system that will react to the actual traffic flow at an intersection rather than an estimated one.

The system being developed by the Dresden University researchers will essentially measure the number of vehicles going into and leaving an intersection. With the help of this information, and the use of some algorithms, the sensor system will share the actual traffic flow with other traffic lights, resulting in the shortening or lengthening of a light to allow a group of vehicles pass the intersection in a “green wave.”

The approach will result in a system-wide smoothness as the vehicle inflow and outflow through each intersection will help in coordinating lights with the neighboring intersections.

Noting that the sensor-based system will help traffic lights act locally to improve traffic globally, the researchers reported in a September Santa Fe Institute working paper that the sensor-based approach to manage traffic lights will not only minimize congestion, but will also help save money, reduce emissions and, hopefully, even quash the road rage of irritated drivers.

Commenting on the sensor-based approach, Gábor Orosz, mechanical engineer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said: “It's very interesting -- the approach is adaptive and the system can react. That's how it should be -- that's how we can get the most out of our current system.”