New technology can reduce traffic jams

Researchers are now taking a new step towards more intelligent traffic management. Individual motorists will reach their destination faster, cheaper and greener. The flow of traffic will be optimally distributed on the roads, and all the coordination will be automatic and wireless via GPS systems in the cars.

2015.10.12 | Kim Harel

A new form of traffic control can predict the flow of cars via advanced computer simulations and direct each individual motorist in the most appropriate direction, thus avoiding traffic jams. The method can ultimately make the European road network intelligent without notable investments in technological hardware. (Photo: Colourbox)

If you mention intelligent traffic management, most people associate it with massive investments in computers, software systems, cameras, sensors and digital signs.

That’s the way it is today, and most major cities in Europe are in the process of implementing expensive technological hardware that can help monitor and direct traffic – all aimed at minimising traffic jams.

A personal detour for every motorist
However, it now appears that there is a smarter solution – one that not only provides an overview of the traffic situation here and now, but also predicts how the flow of cars will be distributed and cause traffic jams.

“In recent years, we’ve developed an advanced new simulation technology. We’ll adapt it so we can use it to provide detailed traffic forecasts and thereby direct traffic to spread the strain on the road network,” says Professor Peter Gorm Larsen, Department of Engineering, Aarhus University.

The idea is that tracking cars on the roads is decentralised via GPS systems in the individual vehicles, and the researchers expect to have an initial technological proof of concept ready in the course of just one year.

“On the intelligent stretches of road today, road users are advised of queues via digital signage. The problem with this is that many motorists choose to take the same alternative route, and new traffic jams occur elsewhere. We expect to provide a solution that redirects motorists optimally as regards the individual’s destination, the current traffic situation, and the forecasts we can make,” says Professor Larsen.

Reduced travel time and less pollution
The key to this is computer modelling that can be used to make detailed simulations of traffic flow on the road network.

The researchers have initially chosen to use the Netherlands as a case country. It is the same size as Denmark and has about three times as many people.

“The Netherlands provides an interesting experimental base because the country is densely populated, has many cars on the roads, and is already well ahead with centrally controlled traffic regulation,” says Professor Larsen.

According to the professor, motorists will be able to choose between the fastest route, the most economical route and the most ecological route.

In the long run, the technology could make the entire European road network intelligent, thereby shortening travelling time for motorists and reducing pollution.

At the same time, the technology can eliminate major investments in monitoring equipment for congested stretches of roads.

More information

The project is called TEMPO and the aim is to develop a new form of distributed traffic regulation.

Aarhus University is developing the technology in collaboration with Newcastle University, UK, and West – the Dutch technology company.

Read more about the project here.

Follow the project on Twitter.

For more information, please contact

Professor Peter Gorm Larsen
Department of Engineering
Aarhus University

AU Engineering