Innovation enables paradigm shift towards distributed traffic management

by Ben Rutten

Traffic management is on the verge of a paradigm shift. Currently road authorities measure network performance by road side equipment and use radio bulletins and public signing along the roads to influence people. This approach is not sustainable due to high costs and lack of effectiveness. With market parties being able to offer more and better data at lower cost, and with in-car navigation systems taking over the role of communication to the driver, there is a big opportunity for road authorities making traffic management drastically more efficient and effective.

The emerging vehicle automation and communication technologies will change the traditional set-up of infrastructure-based sensor information and actuator devices towards an increasing in-car system navigation enabled system involvement, leading to a socalled in-car centric distributed traffic management approach. In such a system, a new opportunity for in-car devices and services will emerge, supported by wireless communication technologies.

Despite suspicion from road authorities at the start of the large-scale use of navigation systems, independent research has shown that the use of navigation systems leads to safer, more comfortable and less pollutant traffic. The introduction of high quality traffic information introduced another significant improvement in traffic guidance. The positive role of in-car navigation systems in traffic management will even be bigger now that a new generation of cloud connected navigation systems start connecting drivers with each other. These connected systems enable a new approach of traffic management, as in-car systems have two main assets to make traffic management drastically more efficient as well as effective.

The first asset is that floating car data that can be generated by connected in-car systems offer a breakthrough in quality and quantity of traffic data becoming available. In the future, so called ‘extended Floating Car Data’ will offer even more possibilities by using other available car sensor data from the in-vehicle control components, e.g. ABS, ESP, steering control and lighting and rain wiper data from the CAN-bus. Massive gathering of this data into a central system in the cloud, which can be processed towards meaningful information on dangerous situations, road surface quality, local weather information and fed back to the driver in a location and time specific manner.

The second asset is the ‘Eyeball attention’ by in-car systems. Because of the individual character of in-car systems, there is a higher tendency to follow-up the advices given by in-car systems and neglecting the information published on roadside public signs.

Distributed traffic management will increasingly be a self-regulating system of wellinformed individuals, within societal desired borders.

The minimum set of components needed for an effective in-car centric distributed traffic management system are so to say cloud connected client devices, with highly secured interfaces between in-vehicle control and infotainment components, as well as secure and privacy-respecting data processing services in the cloud. Technology development is a key asset for getting these innovations developed and subsequently largely scaled up in the market. But only when this technology is well embedded in public-private business cases, and with well-designed Human Machine Interfaces, respecting human factors. By designing the right technologies in this way, a win-win-win for consumer, industry and society will evolve. The massive introduction of such a system is very beneficial for improving the societal goals of efficiency, safety and environment. As a nice side effect, governmental budgets will be saved, and the users will be happy drivers. The data and service industry will create sustainable business cases. This win-win-win situation guarantees a sustainable self-powered system that is ready for the future and can be applied already on short term.

Being well embedded in the Brainport knowledge and industrial infrastructure, the TU/e is well positioned being one of the front-runners in the innovation creation of this in-car centric distributed traffic management approach.