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Automatic Scenario Generation for Advanced Traffic Management Systems, 10-9150

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Principal Investigator
Steven W. Dellenback, Ph.D., PMP

Inclusive Dates: 07/01/99 - 06/30/00

Background - Throughout the nation, congestion is increasing on highways and arterials. The state departments of transportation (DOTs) and local municipalities simply cannot increase the number of lane miles necessary to keep pace with the increasing number of vehicle miles being logged each year. Two major factors prevent the building of highways--funding and land availability. The cost of building roadways continues to escalate, and there are simply not enough funds to build the necessary roadways to alleviate congestion. Secondly, obtaining right-of-ways and overcoming various environmental regulations cannot be accomplished in many metropolitan areas (for example, Austin). A solution to these problems is intelligent transportation systems (ITS). The primary goal of ITS is to engage technology to better utilize the existing capacity of the nation’s highways. A particular class of ITS systems, termed advanced traffic management systems (ATMS), has been the focus of the ITS Section of the Software Engineering Department.

One of the functionality areas lacking in ATMS systems is the management of incidents (i.e., traffic congestion due to an accident, debris, or weather). When an incident occurs, an ATMS uses a scenario to determine how the ATMS field equipment should be modified (that is, what messages to display and what lanes to close). This project addresses the development of an automatic scenario generation concept that will provide SwRI with core technology that could be leveraged into new and extended project activities. The motivation behind this research is the limitations of the two methods currently in use by traffic management organizations to create scenarios:

Predetermined: Hundreds of manhours are spent developing solution scenarios manually (based on a set of runs provided by the Traffic Management Engineer and local knowledge of the highway infrastructure). After these scenarios are developed, the Traffic Management Engineer must crosscheck them and then insert them into the operational system. If a traffic incident occurs for which no solution scenario exists, one must be created dynamically. The advantage to this approach is that existing scenarios can be implemented within seconds of an incident occurring.

Ad hoc: Solution scenarios are not created a priori, rather, when an incident occurs, the response is created dynamically (again this response is based on a set of operational rules). This approach is significantly slower than the first because it takes time to piece together the equipment that will be in the solution.

Approach - This project is developing a set of algorithms that will create solution scenario rules and couple these rules with the roadway geometry [available from Geographical Information System (GIS) data files] to create solution scenarios in a dynamic fashion. Roadway geometry is a significant factor in the creation of a scenario, and the concept is novel in its approach to integrate scenario generation rules and a GIS database. The created scenarios will be validated against currently existing traffic management guidelines and a commercially available traffic modeling application termed Integration.

Accomplishments - This project has completed its first quarter of activities. To date, data have been gathered from the Texas Department of Transportation and the Maryland State Highway Administration on their scenario development rules. These rules are being analyzed and summarized in a common format. Future activity will involve the development of an intelligent scenario object and integration with the GIS database.

Intelligent Systems, Advanced Computer and
Electronic Technology, and Automation Program
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