A traffic control system that wirelessly regulates traffic signals depending on traffic volume was commissioned by Minister for Public Works V.K. Ebrahim Kunju at the Vellayambalam junction in the city on Tuesday.
The vehicle-actuated Wireless Traffic Control System (Wi-Trac) is a joint venture of the Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation (Keltron), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), and the Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB) under the Public Works Department.
Besides the use of the wireless medium, a virtual loop using four cameras imported from Belgium for vehicle detection, solar power compatibility, and GPS compatibility make Wi-Trac unique.
“The usual practice of digging roads for laying cables has been avoided as there is no physical connection between the master control and signal lamps on the four arms of the roundabout,” chief general manager of Keltron A. Michael Suresh Raj said.
“We faced the problem while installing traffic signals in Kolkata where trams are operating and wireless medium is a solution,” Chairman of Keltron G.C. Gopala Pillai said.
The signal system has come in handy for ending traffic snarls on the roads from Kowdiar, Sasthamangalam, Vazhuthacaud, and Museum to the roundabout. Vellayambalam Junction is one of the busy junctions in the city, where over 10,000 vehicles pass an hour during peak hours.
Wi-Trac, the first of its kind in the county, has been developed as part of the Intelligent Transportation System Endeavour (Intranse), a research project of CDAC, and Mumbai and Madras IITs, says CDAC Deputy Director Ravi Kumar.
Compared to the conventional pre-time fixed traffic signals, signals in Wi-Trac will change according to the volume of traffic giving more time for vehicles to come out of the roundabout.
Overlapping signals are possible as vehicles from Kowdiar are given 53 seconds, Vazhuthacaud, 23, Museum, 44, and Sasthamangalam, 37 seconds.
“Although a cycle is of 90 seconds, we have given 157 seconds to the vehicles bringing down the average waiting time to cross the roundabout from 90 to 120 seconds to 51 seconds,” says road safety expert and adviser to the government N.S. Sreenivasan, who took up the Wi-Trac initiative.
A 32-bit microcontroller is the backbone of Wi-Trac and the master control communicates to the 16 “slave” controllers through the wireless link. C-DAC, which functions near the Vellayambalam junction, has set up a control room to monitor the system.
Project officials say feedback of the motorists is being taken to fine-tune the system.