DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A REAL-TIME TRAFFIC SENSOR.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
In today’s traffic system there is an estimate of one billion cars on the roads which leave traffic officials grappling with congestion and face challenges from affordability constraints, increasing emissions and drivers’ growing needs. In a nation like United States alone, it has been recorded that the total cost of congestion for the 85 U.S. urban areas is estimated to be 65 billion dollars per year, from 3.5 billion hours of delay and 5.7 billion gallons of excess fuel consumption (Cheung and Varaiya, 2007).
Bringing it down to our motherland Nigeria, in a research conducted ROM Transportation Engineering between the years 2007 and 2009 it was discovered that the costs of congestion in Lagos were estimated to be $1billion (about N160 billion) yearly. (Olorunpomi, 2010). These conclusions were reached based on the official population figure of 17 million for Lagos state. The research concluded further that Lagosians collectively lose 3 billion hours to traffic congestions yearly, and that if that time were reduced by 20 per cent, it would save the state at least $1 billion (about N150 billion) yearly. (Olorunpomi, 2010)
Several definitions of the term congestion have been been proposed by various authors in an attempt to be somewhat unique but in the end, all roads lead to the same point in that no one definition is farfetched from another.
The Joint Transport Research Centre of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) particularly define traffic congestion as: 1) the impedance vehicles impose on each other, due to the speed-flow relationship, in conditions where the use of a transport system approaches capacity; 2) a relative phenomenon that is linked to the difference between the roadway system performance that users expect and how the system actually performs.” and
3) a situation in which demand for road space exceeds supply. (Popoola, Abiola & Adeniji, 2013).
From the above data provided, it is clear and beyond doubt that measures need to be put in place to find solutions to such a crucial matter, a more intelligent way of handling the costs that have been affecting the transportation system on a global level.
“Connected and automated vehicles are closer than ever to being part of our everyday world, and the decisions we make regarding these and other advanced technologies could profoundly affect the future of transportation” (Auer, Feese, & Lockwood, 2010).
1.1.1 INTELLIGENT TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
The concept of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) refers to that of an operational system that, when combined and managed, encompasses the operating capability of the overall transportation system. It can therefore be defined as the combination of advances in information systems, communications, sensors and advanced modelling and algorithms to provide and also improve the performance of transportation systems for enhanced safety, efficiency and serviceability. Also assuring the reduction in urban congestion and equally making it possible for the comfortable proliferation of transit ridership and good movement without a dire need for investments in the physical/structural road facilities (Adeleke, Jimoh, Yusuf, Kolo, Jimoh, Anwar, Abdulraham & Oyewobi, 2016).
The ITS technologies generally include
(a) sensors to detect traffic conditions and vehicle motions
(b) wireless communications between roadway infrastructure and vehicles and among different vehicles
(c) data processing and storage
(d) electromechanical actuators
(e) software to implement and optimise the desired behaviours in any or all of these sub-systems or the whole transportation systems (Adeleke & Jimoh, 2005).
The idea behind ITS, however, can not be fully uncovered without a discuss on the terminology, “telematics”.
“Telematics describes the combination of the transmission of information over a telecommunication network and the computerised processing of this information”. (Goel 2007).
The operations of telematics lies on the foundations of softwares, devices and applications and can be used primarily for; electronic communication, linking individual elements of the telematics system; and for information gathering (measurement sensors, video cameras, radars e.t.c.) amongst other important uses. The terminology telematics has been introduce already into various branches of the economy, hence the appearance of terms such as: financial, building, health, environmental protection, operational, postal, library telematics (Nowacki, Krysiuk & Kopczewski 2012). One branch of primary focus especially as it relates to this project topic is that of transport telematics which encompasses systems that allow the influencing of the road traffic participants’ behaviour or operation of vehicles technical elements. (Internationales Verkehrsween, 2003).
The Directive of the European Council (2010) defines Intelligent Transportation Systems as meaning systems in which information and communication technologies are applied in the files of the road transport.
Simply put by Berghout et al (1999) defined ITS as to mean the system, in which people, roads and used vehicles are linked through the network utilising, advanced information. Hence, Intelligent Transportation Systems are a direct application of Telematics (Nowacki et al, 2012).
In our daily lives people encounter various challenges with traffic, has it is a major hazard in both developing countries and developed countries of the world. In addressing the topic of traffic congestion uncovered that concept of traffic congestion cannot be eradicated from the society at large however attempts can be made to mitigate to a minimal level the discomfort that traffic congestion causes to road users on a daily basis.
Most works have been focused on solutions and have all made attempts by proposing their different suggestions on systems that have the potential to reduce this discomfort either through the control of traffic signal or by trying to attempting to measure the traffic congestion level on roads and provide routing suggestions to users.
Our work focuses primarily on the latter of the aforementioned in that it proposes a model system of real road traffic conditions and takes a measure of the traffic dentist on roads and provides advisory messages to the users.
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
The problem of traffic congestion is a critical one and with so much time being wasted in traffic jams. “The unreliability of travel time due to varying conditions makes it difficult and sometimes even impossible to give an estimate of an individual’s arrival time to a set out destination” (FHWA, 2006).
Inductive loops have almost always been the most widely used techniques in the traffic surveillance mechanism but it has of recent come to the attention of stakeholders that the implementation of such a technique on a wide scale has implications on the traffic conditions, causing serious disruption of traffic due to the installation and maintenance of these said surveillance systems, which leads to a relatively high cost on the level of ten thousand dollars per intersection. It was also observed that the system of using inductive loops is that certain weather conditions have profound effects on the system and in a case where there is a detonation in the road pavements, these in-road devices could be potentially damaged and would hence require costs to repair, replace or even just maintain the conditions (FHWA, 2006 & Cheung et al, 2007).
There is therefore a dire need for less intrusive methods to reducing the inconvenience attributed to traffic congestions.
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