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Saturday , 25 June 2022

Transportation in the Digital Age: The Influence of Connected Vehicle on Traffic Management

CV technology and data are already transforming traffic management and will be the focus of future innovation in the market. The market demands communication between the vehicle/driver and the road operator whether for safety or mobility services including tolling. Industry stakeholders must embrace this transformation or be left behind. Roadway operators today are trying to understand how to utilize CV data, it’s impact to roadway operations, optimize existing infrastructure and how they manage mixed vehicle environments. Steve Sprouffske, Vice President, Connected Vehicle Services, Kapsch TrafficCom USA Inc writes about the role CV technology and data play in the evolution of traffic management from legacy, infrastructure based services to data driven, digital infrastructure based services.

Legacy traffic services are highly dependent on heavy infrastructure sensors and communication methods such as loops in the pavement, dynamic message signs, CCTV cameras, and radar/LiDar detectors. The traffic data delivered is largely point based information with some injection of traffic data from data providers. Information delivery to the driver is largely based on fixed signage, dynamic message signs and radio mechanisms. There is some injection through cellular network based or mobile based solutions with little interaction with the traffic management systems. It’s only been recently that collaboration from the vehicle is being introduced but largely the vehicle is a passive participant within the corridor.

In the not too distant future, digitally connected traffic ecosystem will rely more on connected vehicle data and communication between the vehicle to accomplish many of the services today as well as more advanced use cases involving all actors within the ecosystem including vehicle, vulnerable road users, and other transportation modes. These actors and the corridor management services are envisioned to operate in an ecosystem wide collaboration of safety, mobility, environmental and decision making. The nature of Connected Vehicle traffic data provides flow-based vs point based data perspective with higher fidelity for AI and ML based services creating predictive and proactive incident management with actionable information for corridor users and managers alike.

Enabling the Transportation Evolution

As technology evolves, so too does the transportation environment. At this point, the ITS industry and the broader transportation industry are in full transition. Depending on the global region, current stage of transition may look very different. Before we dive into where the industry is today, let us define the stages transportation may take.

As previously discussed, transportation systems for many years have been in a legacy phase. This phase is largely defined by its reactive characteristic. A reactive transportation system monitors the roadway conditions in various methods such as loops in the pavement, Radar/LiDar sensors and CCTV cameras. Decision making within the operations center leverages predefined incident planning. With the vehicle mostly a passive participant within the ecosystem at this point, communication with the driver is accomplished through fixed signage and possibly highway advisory radios systems.

With the increasing demand of optimizing efficient solutions coupled with the demand for connectivity an extreme focus is placed on digital platforms leveraging connected vehicle and mobility data. This demand is the main transition driver towards a true connected transportation phase. Such an approach allows a migration away from heavy infrastructure solutions to infrastructure light solutions. Technology continues to drive innovation in sensors and communications necessitating a flexible and adaptable solution platform in a continuously evolving technology future.

Connected vehicle services position within the industry hierarchy from hardware to data platforms frees roadway operators to deliver Technology Neutral Platforms regardless of the underlying technology and delivery mechanism to the end user. Whether via short-ranged 5.9 GHz C-V2X or network based 5G, connected vehicle services addresses the transportation challenges our roadway operator partners have. Another factor for consideration is the convergence of transportation services traditionally siloed. Connected Vehicle Services not only support singular target solution segment but also cross-market Convergence of Traffic, Tolling, & Demand Management. In the future, the lines between these segments will blur until eventually a singular umbrella service set delivers these adjacent solution segments.

Many use cases emerging today leverage the advances in digital platforms and communications making solutions available what wasn’t possible even five years ago. Advances enable active information exchange between vehicles and information systems which deliver relevant and timely information. Many of these use cases are familiar to those within the CV industry. Use cases such as Vulnerable Road User warnings, Weather information, Signalized Preemption/Priority, Road Works Warning, and many others are now becoming a reality as a result of a convergence between digital platforms, intelligent sensors and CV technology.

Finally, another key aspect for consideration is the ability to scale like never before. Cloud based systems open up the possibilities to expand from micro corridor levels to macro regional levels at scale further enhancing the value proposition to the end customer.

Smart Corridors of the Future

The ultimate phase the industry is driving towards is the fully digital age. Within this environment roadway infrastructure as we see it today is a relic of the past. Fully connected vehicles deliver volumes of information, removing the reliance on infrastructure sensors. Digital infrastructure and services ushers in Smart Corridors of the Future enabled by connected vehicles and ultimately autonomous vehicles. Further digitization of the transportation corridor establishes the foundation of a new era of proactive safety and connected services. These digitized services will deliver enhanced utility, performance and safe coexistence of autonomous vehicles and non-autonomous vehicles which further enhance and utilize data-driven digital services.

The main thing to understand within the autonomous phase of transportation is the automation occurring at all levels of the ecosystem. True AV is coming but when is a moving target. Some say 5, 10, and even 30 years. Regardless of when, these vehicles will radically change how the roadway operates and is managed. Consider the level of automation occurring today. Imagine a drive down the highway where all vehicles are operating in some sort of auto pilot feature much less in fully autonomous mode. What impacts will this have on congestion, driver distraction, and the environment? All of
this remains to be seen and numerous studies published foresee varying views.

Layering up, consider the connectivity of AVs. We’re already seeing the impacts of floating car data provided by numerous vendors sourced from automakers. That only get the industry so far. What’s needed and exciting is the direct connection between the vehicle and the roadway operator. CV use cases demonstrate the power of information for the human driver, AVs can leverage this data as well. Extending beyond use case information, jurisdictional data, data which defines the rules of the roadway or real-time changes in the roadway geometry, adds a further level of information for AVs. These aspects combined, extend the safety envelope of the AV beyond the on-board sensors and the nearby objects to more of a corridor level view. Extending the safety envelope adds another level of assurance and confidence in AV technology which could help with adoption.

Finally, at the operations layer or the corridor systems layer, the digital platforms which emerged in the connected phase become increasingly more powerful and reliable. Merging the remaining roadside sensors with the volumes of CV and AV data lends itself to automated systems and processes. AI and ML today are already cutting down notification time for incidents and other hazard information in the corridor. As data grows, the richness and fidelity of the information to shared and leveraged will only increase exponentially.

The Digital Age Today

The mobility solutions supplied by Kapsch TrafficCom help make road traffic safer and more reliable, efficient, and comfortable in urban areas and on highways alike while helping to reduce pollution and congestion. One such example is our Intelligent Corridor Project in Melbourne, Australia. In this project, we combine intelligent roadside sensors, CV, and digital platforms in an urban environment.

One phase of the program aimed to integrate CV enabled Lexus Vehicles into Australian Integrated Multimodal EcoSystem (AIMES) infrastructure that eventually will connect to the Victoria DoT’s traffic systems and roadside sensors installed at traffic intersections. It utilises high-definition mapping of the area and integration with other CV enabled stations to implement safety-relevant use cases, aiming to alert drivers of crash risks and promote safer driving behaviour.

AIMES is an extensive living laboratory based on the streets of Melbourne, established to test highly integrated transport technology with a goal to deliver safer, cleaner and more sustainable urban transport outcomes. It covers over 100 km of roadway in the dense urban environment of Melbourne. The AIMES Test Bed was initiated in the dense inner-city area of Carlton; partner organisations began installing diverse technologies for sensing, connecting, visualising and analysing mobility systems in 2015.

The trial demonstrated strong collaboration between stakeholders nationally to integrate roadside infrastructure and the central facility into the AIMES precinct that enabled the successful verification of all six C-ITS use cases with Lexus Vehicles.

The subsequent future phases of the program will consider further integration of existing roadside technology along with incorporation of more advanced use cases that ultimately drive safety and mobility within the region. An important aspect will also include integration and aggregation of data from a local SCATS enabled Traffic Light Controller (TLC) to the nearby CV RSU to determine the signal phase and time status and to correlate the messages generated in the Kapsch RSU on the Lexus Vehicle’s CV ECU. Kapsch TrafficCom will further integrate Kapsch’s Connected Mobility Control Centre (CMCC) that facilitates fast configuration, device management and maintenance in daily operation to reduce time and cost for efficient operation and fast deployment of multiple C-ITS RSUs.

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