Feeds

Solving traffic jams with maths

Make the traffic control the lights, instead of the other way around

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A Swiss traffic management and transport economics expert believes a combination of queue management and computing can help solve the gridlock that plagues the modern city.

Dr Dirk Helbing of ETH Zurich, a professor of sociology specializing in modeling and simulation, says “self organizing” traffic control systems, using massively parallel, decentralized control, are needed to avoid gridlocks. The problem, he told Tages Anzeiger (in German) is the inflexibility of current traffic control systems.

Today’s designs over-generalize: traffic lights are phased for typical behavior for a particular time of day (and day of week), and cope badly with anything unexpected. As a result, traffic lights have no response to an accident at an intersection; the previous set of lights will continue allowing traffic into an already-congested section of road, and eventually, the congestion feeds back into the rest of the road network.

Instead of typical queues, Dr Helbing says, the system is suddenly asked to cope with “extremely varied” queues.

Using sensors to measure variables like the amount of traffic already in a road section, how quickly it is moving, and how long to the next change of lights, Dr Helbing’s approach is designed to respond to unexpected events.

For example, the system would detect that traffic on one section of road is slowing down or has stopped, and divert it to alternate routes to prevent the backfill causing gridlock.

Dr Helbing told Tages Anzeiger that the mathematical modeling needed to represent such complex systems was “my most difficult trial”.

While lobbying Zurich to trial the system, Dr Helbing says the city of Dresden in Germany has already taken the plunge, and is about to launch a trial. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.