Modernizing the traffic management system
Some of the most sophisticated vehicles to date are driving on the road—namely Teslas with an Autopilot system that can steer and brake for drivers and provide 360° visibility around the car from multiple cameras. Another SAE Level 2 vehicle system garnering attention includes General Motors’ Super Cruise, which incorporates a hands-free ADAS (advanced driving-assistance system) that is going to be rolled out on other GM vehicles beyond the company’s luxury brand, Cadillac. These vehicles are examples of some of the most advanced cars on the roads today that include high-level sensors, sophisticated cameras, and numerous driver-monitoring features.
These innovative vehicles are currently driving on the road with a traffic-management system that has not been updated in over a hundred years. While the current system served a purpose in the past, the demand for traffic management to catch up to the technology today is more apparent than ever. The juxtaposition between the outdated traffic management system and Level 2 vehicles is almost comical.
When you get into an autonomous vehicle, you input the address and the vehicle takes you there without any need to touch the steering wheel, pedals, or to activate turn signals. Developers of autonomous traffic management are taking a very similar approach. No need for any manual work anymore, the only need for a city is to define what it would like to achieve—for instance, whether a vehicle or bus will get priority in a certain intersection, where pedestrians should be prioritized over vehicles, and in which corridors heavy trucks will be eligible for paid priority. From that point, an algorithm is operating the grid in real time to maximize the road capacity by increasing efficiency while implementing the city’s policies at the street level.
An autonomous traffic management system has the power to manage the traffic flow so that drivers are no longer waiting at traffic lights unnecessarily; if there isn’t a reason for a light to stop traffic, an AI-driven sensor system communicates with each traffic light to modify the traffic flow based on the current needs on the road. City agents can prioritize the type of traffic that is necessary for particular intersections. For instance, the intersections near schools could prioritize pedestrian traffic so that students can walk across the street safely. Another prime example of the power of an autonomous traffic-management system is that sensors can notify first responders in real-time when an accident occurs so they can get to the scene immediately to provide service to those in need.
Some other unique capabilities that an autonomous traffic management system provides is the ability to leverage V2X capabilities to create a truly Smart City where vehicles are connected to the traffic grid and can communicate with the infrastructure as well as other vehicles. By creating a connected infrastructure, accidents can be predicted and prevented, creating safer road conditions and a more efficient traffic system. In fact, Frost & Sullivan predicts (https://bit.ly/39QvIYx) that Smart Cities will represent a $2 trillion market by 2025 with these types of IoT capabilities at the forefront.
“Currently, most Smart City models provide solutions in silos and are not interconnected,” said Vijay Narayanan, Visionary Senior Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “The future is moving toward integrated solutions that connect all verticals within a single platform. IoT is already paving the way to allow for such solutions.”
V2X capabilities provide an IoT platform, for which the entire traffic environment can be connected and responsive in real-time, that can transform the city infrastructure into a knowledgeable data center that can also provide services to drivers and pedestrians.
Additionally, with an autonomous traffic management system, city officials can analyze traffic insights and understand traffic patterns and areas that are prone to vehicle collisions to allow city officials to have a complete view of the city traffic system so that changes can be made when necessary.
How we have gotten to this point with the old traffic management system is still a wonder. Updating the system will pave the way for a truly connected environment where road infrastructure and road users communicate in perfect synergy to enable an efficient and safe environment.