How convenient would it be to have electronic boards at intersections giving real-time updates about the traffic jam ahead or suggesting the least congested alternative route to a particular destination?
The Advanced Traveller Information System Project under the Intelligent Transportation System study undertaken by IIT Madras, funded by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India, plans to achieve something on these lines.
The first part of the initiative plans to study a rectangle formed by nodes that record heavy traffic intersections at rush hour in the city, said R. Sivanandan, Transportation Engineering Professor, IIT-M.
The nodal points include junctions at Velachery (Vijay Nagar), Madhya Kailash, Sardar Patel Road and Lattice Bridge Road. The IT corridor stretch (Rajiv Gandhi Salai) is also part of the study. The research and demonstration project which will reach its field trial stage early next year is being headed by Dr. Sivanandan and four senior researchers at IIT-M.
With the aim of studying traffic congestion patterns and measuring travel time, a certain number of probe vehicles will be operated at different intervals alongside the regular traffic in various parts of the city. These vehicles, fitted with GPS, will send information about the traffic flow and travel time, and other related data to the Traffic Monitoring Centre at IIT-M which would be subsequently studied and used to build intelligent traffic control models.
All the collated information would be displayed real-time at certain junctions through Electronic Variable Message (EVM) signboards. The system would be controlled with the help of the traffic police and will enable the motorists to make informed choices. Eventually, they will have access to information such as the direction of heaviest traffic flow.
Such signboards have already been installed in 10 important traffic junctions, but they only display road safety awareness messages now. M. Ravi, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), said that advanced tri-coloured version of the EVMs will be installed in six new locations across the city in a month. “They will be able to communicate with a central server in real-time and give information on congestion, bus breakdowns and traffic diversions can be transmitted from the control room. The existing EVMs would also give real time updates,” he said.
More number of EVMs will soon make an appearance along Kamaraj Salai, Anna Salai, P.H. Road, Rajiv Gandhi Salai and Sardar Patel Road.
Dr. Sivanandan said that optimising signal timings in various junctions by installing adaptive and intelligent traffic signals on major arterial roads to balance the flow of traffic is also being considered as part of the project.