Power of 5G
Creating an up-to-date and reliable picture of all traffic participants is essential to make the right prediction and decision on what the traffic lights at an intersection should do. The deployment of 5G will be essential in the future because of its low latency, combined with the processing of huge amounts of data, to quickly calculate super fast where each cyclist is located.
Developing and testing an algorithm was one of the main objectives. This is an important part of ensuring that intersections become safer and cyclists can travel from A to B more smoothly. Yet there is another major challenge: the market is still quite conservative. “Suppliers of traffic control systems are still reluctant. They currently see no need to change their products yet. Understandable, because it will require some investment; not only financially, but also in time and energy. If we want to make traffic safer and more sustainable in the future, it’s not just about developing smarter technology. Applicability is essential. Suppliers must be able to understand the added value in order to be convinced of usefulness and necessity,” Sascha points out.
Intelligent Traffic Light Controller(iTLC) installations, also known as intelligente verkeersregelinstallaties (iVRI) in Dutch, are control systems that facilitate communication between the traffic infrastructure and road users, allowing for the collection of more data than previously possible. This enhanced data collection capability leads to improved and innovative traffic management possibilities.
For central data processing location, there are two possibilities: wired or wireless. Typically, wired systems employ glass fiber technology. Do IoT Fieldlab’s 5G expert Anup Bhattacharjee conducted a study on the scenarios for the communication infrastructure. He explains: “We compared all kinds of setups, varying with cloud and edge data storage solutions. Furthermore, we explored possible solutions using technologies such as 3G, 4G or 5G, and WiFi-P. For this project, we focused specifically on 5G technology and ‘beyond’ and the initial questions that arise when considering the use of 5G telecom networks for intelligent traffic control systems.”
Feedback from stakeholders
“After looking at the possible scenarios as to how 5G could potentially play a role in the intelligent traffic system applications, we discussed the same with the stakeholders of this domain such as government bodies, traffic consultants, traffic equipment manufacturers, connected vehicle manufacturer and telecom experts”, he adds. “We also received feedback during a meeting with to the Contactgroep Verkeersregel- technici Nederland (CVN) members. They emphasized that the reliability of communication links is crucial. Most municipalities currently rely on glass fiber for these installations, but when glass fiber is unavailable, 5G could be a viable alternative. A good understanding of the benefits and valuable advancements is paramount for the adoption of this new technology. Naturally, there is a lot of concern regarding privacy regulations (GDPR), which should be taken into account. In addition, system reliability is very important in the field of connected vehicles. The slightest disruption can cause critical sensor data to not be processed properly, posing risks. Even a minor hickup can translate to critical sensor data being missed during transmission, potentially causing risk. Therefore, in future studies, all these aspects have to be thoroughly investigated, in order to define the right conditions to involve information from connected vehicles in traffic light control.”
Sascha agrees: “Governments are interested in future technology, but we need the cooperation from all the different standpoints. And they obviously place high demands on the security and reliability of data exchange. The Netherlands is far ahead of the rest of the world in terms of knowledge and innovation. Scandinavia and Germany are also considerably developing traffic control tools. The TU Delft scientists and fieldlabs are keeping a close eye on all developments. We want to stay in the lead and will certainly continue to refine and improve the algorithms. With our continuous effort, the systems will soon be 5G-ready and we will be able to involve suppliers and governments in this development. I think it would be great to witness a stream of cyclists getting the green light at exactly the right time, and long enough, in a few years.”