MALLESWARAM: An Indian Institute of Science professor and two of his students have been working on a system to manage traffic signals better.
Prof Shalabh Bhatnagar of the Department of Computer Science and Automation, his PhD student Prabuchandran and Master’s student Hemanth Kumar have devised a smart way to control traffic lights to minimise the delay experienced by road users.
The idea is to pick the most congested line, and give it the green signal first to clear the overall congestion quicker.
Throughout the world, the number of vehicles is increasing exponentially, while the space available to them has remained more or less the same.
Bangalore, with a population of more than a crore, has 50 lakh vehicles.
Broadly, there are two approaches to managing a busy junction. In one, the green signal is given in an order, but the signal duration is varied. If a green signal is given clockwise, the lanes with more vehicles remain green for a longer time.
In the other approach, the green signal duration is fixed, but the order varies, depending on traffic volume. The lane with more vehicles gets a green earlier than a less crowded lane, but the green lights up for a fixed number of seconds. The IISc researchers have taken the second approach.
Traffic congestion across various lanes is monitored with the help of sensors. Instead of controlling the complete road network as a single entity, each traffic junction is considered as a point of decision-making. This approach can be used for any road network, irrespective of how big the city is.
The initial order at a junction is set randomly. At every junction, the priority of the lanes is determined on the basis of traffic congestion information on the lanes at the junction and its vicinity.
High traffic lanes are given more opportunities to stay green while low traffic lanes skip the green.
This way, the various junctions organise themselves by talking to their neighbours, thus clearing the congestion quicker.
Speaking of the future, the authors said they planned to look at more attributes such as driver behaviour.
A paper detailing their work was published in the journal Communication Systems and Networks earlier this year.
This is similar to the green corridor concept, said traffic expert M N Sreehari. “The idea is that on a particular road, say West of Chord Road, JC Road or Ring Road, signals turn green as soon as a vehicle approaches, giving it a freeway. All the signals are synchronised.”
However, he added, Bengaluru is full of unplanned traffic signals. “So here they can consider 40 kmph the average speed.” This could help ease out traffic and reduce waiting time.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M A Saleem said the researchers had not got in touch with the department.
“Unless we see the report, we will not be able to comment on it,” he said.