Adaptive traffic control systems help improve communities and intersections across the world. But what is an adaptive traffic control system? Today we hope to clear that up.
Adaptive traffic control systems aren’t as complex as they sound. At the very base, its technology that makes traffic signals change and adapt based on actual traffic demand. So rather than adhering to a fixed cycle — like the majority of traffic controllers and systems used — an adaptive system responds, in real-time, to the vehicles at the intersection.
This is done with a combination of advanced hardware and software. You need measuring systems to recognize the demand of traffic, that’s the hardware. At a rudimentary level this could be loops, but it could also be a camera or thermal camera. What these detection sources do is recognize vehicle presence and feed that information into the software.
For software, you need an advanced system and algorithm that can recognize vehicle counts and stays, analyze incoming data and push out responses regardless of intersection geometries or traffic demand. The software is what makes the traffic controller adaptive by responding to vehicle presence at any given time and appropriately prioritizing signal changes.
Advanced algorithms can be designed to respond with real-time optimization and coordinate traffic movements across corridors — meaning signals can be linked across a section of roadway, rather than at individual intersections. When signals are adaptive at a corridor-level, larger groupings of vehicles can be moved smoothly along stretches of road in a way that improves overall traffic flow.
For accuracy, adaptive traffic control algorithms are rigorously developed and tested to ensure accurate, responsive and advanced adaptive operations take place. At times, traffic is predictable, but that isn’t always the case. That’s why adaptive systems have to be prepared for anything.
That’s what an adaptive traffic control system is — a 21st century solution for optimizing traffic signals. Adaptive traffic controls respond directly to demand at every intersection, 24/7/365. And that’s what makes this solution different. Regardless of your traffic flow, time of day or demand, adaptive traffic control responds specifically to your intersection’s needs.
*According to the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation & Research, “Evaluation of the Virginia Department of Transportation Adaptive Signal Control Technology Pilot Project.”