An intelligent transport system (ITS) involves data collection, analyses and application of the results to develop a robust traffic management system. Along with other segments in the mobility space, ITS as a vital segment is also slowly coming back to normalcy after COVID-related disruptions. TrafficInfraTech’s Geethanjali Monto spoke to a few ITS sector leaders and academicians to gain insight into the current status and future of ITS implementation in India.
Just as in many other countries, in India also the immediate future activities in ITS area will be around connected vehicles is what I believe, ” says Lelitha Devi Vanajakshi, professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM). She is an expert in ITS, focussing on Indian traffic conditions, and one of the core faculty members of the Center of Excellence in Urban Transport at IITM.
A connected vehicle has its own connection to the internet and is equipped with advanced communication technologies, allowing it to share data with other devices inside and outside the car. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technologies enable data exchange between vehicles (eg. on traffic conditions) while vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies enable data exchange between vehicles and infrastructure (eg. on accidents and speed limits); vehicle-to-people (V2P) technologies enable data exchange between vehicles and smartphones or dedicated devices (eg. on ongoing activities close by) and vehicle-to-network (V2N) technologies enable data exchange between vehicles and the Traffic Control Centre (TCC) (eg. real-time information on traffic conditions).
Some of the benefits provided by connected autonomous vehicles to smart cities are portrayed in the picture.
“V2V and V2I technologies are at a nascent stage in India”, says Rajesh Krishnan, Director, ITS Planners and Engineers Pvt Ltd He explains that “the technology has great potential since such technologies enable the city to exert control on traffic in a number of ways. For example, ATCS systems connected with V2I technology can influence the routing and speed of vehicles, which can lead to lower levels of congestion compared to currently-deployed ATCS systems. This is a relatively new concept, and a number of academic researchers are working on this problem. I see such technology maturing in the coming years.”
G. Satheesh, Section Head, Intelligent Transportation & Networking Section, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) points out, “V2I technologies have gained momentum very recently. RFID & DSRC-based systems are the main communication technologies being used today. However there are no license bands allocated for ITS applications, which is a major challenge for large-scale deployments.
“V2V communication is emerging using DSRC and Millimeter wave technologies. But the roll out of 5G shall take momentum and will be used for both V2I & V2V technologies. Low latency is one of the major requirement for all V2I & V2V applications. In-vehicle information on the real-time traffic state and route guidance, vehicle priority for emergency service vehicles and public transport buses, onboard advisory and warning systems, vehicle platooning are some of the applications using V2I and V2V technologies.”
Rasmeet Kohli, Managing Director, Envoys Electronics Pvt Ltd says that centralisation of data source and standardising the protocols for integration is key to V2V & V2I communication.
In the context of electric vehicles (EVs), what is the relevance of the ITS industry? Rasmeet Kohli provides an answer: “Electromobility and ITS are essential components in decarbonizing road transportation and play an essential role in the mobility process of Smart Cities. ITS also plays an essential task in this transformation, owing to the flexibility of the EV charging process and the EV operation, which operates as an energy storage device; it also helps to facilitate the market penetration of renewable energy resources. In parallel, IoT approaches allow the collection of large volumes of data and big data approaches, creating opportunities to develop solutions to overcome challenges such as the ones that emerge from the EV charging process, CS locations, and the reservation of charging spots.”
Satheesh points out that EV ecosystem in ITS acts as a catalyst for reduced emission and pollution.
In the last few years, there have been several innovations with respect to traffic detection, data sources and algorithms. Rajesh Krishnan says that he is happy to note that India leads the way when it comes to advanced detection technology. “We routinely use detectors that provide Vehicle By Vehicle (VBV) data or tracking (trajectory) data of vehicles using video analytics (using normal and thermal cameras) and traffic radars. Such detectors are reasonably accurate under Indian traffic conditions with lack of lane discipline. We use traffic signal controllers that can read and make use of such data while the developed world is still stuck with first generation detection technology due to legacy reasons. Our Smart City tenders set the bar high when it comes to algorithms that drive the ITS systems. Most ITS systems deployed in our Smart Cities are capable of estimating and predicting the traffic state across the road network in near real time; this is an advanced capability in the global context. Many ITS systems are capable of optimising vehicle flows measured in Passenger Car Units (PCUs). This is possible because the advanced detection used in many Smart Cities provides vehicle classification information in VBV data. This helps us to optimise the traffic flow, taking into account vehicle categories.”
Satheesh talks about camera and radar-based costly solutions that are being used today for traffic count and classification, queue length detection, and speed. “Low cost sensors like WiFi and Bluetooth are also being tried out for traffic state estimation to derive vehicle density, platoon speed and queue length in a traffic junction. Classified counts of traffic in PCUs (Passenger Car Units) shall be used in traffic system design.” Venkata Subbarao Chunduru, Associate Director, IBI Group India highlights: “Camera and radar-based technologies have been most forthcoming and promising in the recent past.”
“All weather detectors are mapped with AI for increased accuracy of detection. There are data sources to further categorise the classified vehicles for efficiently optimising the timings.”, says Rasmeet Kohli.
A specific example is the Hyderabad Integrated Traffic Management Systems (H-ITMS), developed by the IBI Group India Pvt Ltd
ITMS is a control centre application, which collects data from various field sensors and different sub-systems in real time and integrates various stakeholders required for efficient handling of various operations involved in traffic management of a city. The platform contains scientifically designed and tested modules enlisted as below, which target to resolve and reduce the issues pertaining to city traffic: (1) traffic business intelligence; (2) incident management; (3) violation management; (4) traffic routing; (5) case management (TrafFix); (6) traffic management; (7) hotlist management; (8) special event management.
The highly-customizable application enables the user/city authority to appropriate it to specific standard operating procedures and adjust the extension in terms of both sensors and sub-systems without any limitation. The ITMS has been successfully implemented in the city of Hyderabad, which is now live. The system is integrated with more than 3000 field sensors and dozens of sub-systems enabling the city traffic police to effectively manage the traffic in real time and achieve their objective of cop-less junctions.