‘Smart Intersection Initiative’ research project launched in Texas

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The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), Texas A&M University and the City of College Station are joining forces with seven key private sector companies to help design, develop and test, safer, smarter intersections.

The potential benefits of smart interchanges go far beyond better signal timing. As an example, during peak commuting times, vehicles stuck in congestion could alert drivers of stationary traffic many miles before the queues begin, and suggest alternate routes. The ability to detect traffic flow and volume, analyze complex traffic data in real time, calculate multiple route alternatives and send the resulting recommendations to vehicles approaching a congested intersection, will change the congestion equation. Rather than dealing with traffic choke points on an intersection-by-intersection basis, such technologies promise to address the problem systemically; to dynamically shift traffic patterns on the fly. The convergence of intelligent vehicle systems, traffic monitoring technologies, and active roadway infrastructure, will shift mobility management from a reactive strategy, to a dynamic, real-time system.

The Smart Intersections Initiative is the first of several promising developments coming out of the Transportation Technology Conference sponsored by TTI, and held last month in College Station. Several key players in transportation-related automation, including the Econolite Group, EDI, Iteris, McCain, MoboTrex, Savari and Siemens, have indicated preliminary interest in the initiative, and talks are underway with others. Work will center on practical application of evolving automated and connected vehicle and infrastructure technologies. The goal is to streamline signal operations, enhance safety, and improve overall mobility. The research initiative will be conducted in three distinct environments. It will initially take advantage of TTI’s existing traffic signal laboratory; then expand to a controlled environment at the new full-scale signal testing facility, featuring several intersections, constructed at the RELLIS campus; and ultimately at live intersections in the City of College Station.

“The Smart Intersection Initiative will bring together researchers, traffic signal manufacturers, communications providers, data and analytics companies, system integrators, and many others, to research and advance this next generation of traffic signal operation,” explained Ed Seymour, associate agency director at TTI. “Each partner has distinctive strengths in their respective fields; this synergy, focused on a common goal, has enormous potential.”

John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, commented, “We are delighted that these companies and the City of College Station will be partnering with Texas A&M researchers in this significant initiative. We are always looking for ways to collaborate with the private sector to make life better in Texas and beyond.”

TTI director, Dennis Christiansen, noted, “Smarter intersections will play a key role in improving mobility and enhancing safety for the public. Complex, multimodal environments, where vehicles, buses, pedestrians and bicycles intersect, are challenging in the best of circumstances. As traffic volumes increase, those challenges quickly multiply.”

For the past five years, TTI has led the connected vehicle traffic signal research effort for the US Department of Transportation, with the deployment of traffic signal, phase and timing research at USDOT’s Turner-Fairbank Research Center.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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