This stuff is not as futuristic as you might think: it’s happening now!
TSS-Transport Simulation Systems was an important contributor to Project MARTA (“Mobility & Automotion through Advanced Transport Networks”), which was unveiled in spring 2011 after three years of development. MARTA is one of 16 projects that form part of the Spanish Government’s 35-million-Euro initiative to promote investigation and development in transport issues, one of the largest public-private initiatives in the history of Spanish research.
MARTA aims to foster research and development in vehicle-to-vehicle communication and also between vehicles and the infrastructure. These intelligent systems of the future will contribute to the reduction of traffic congestion, accidents and pollution and reinforce incident management strategies. In general terms MARTA will cover communication protocols, vehicle and infrastructure equipment, human-machine interface (HMI), enduser services and methodologies to increase efficiency in the traffic infrastructure as it relates to the motor vehicle.
MARTA is the combined effort of 18 companies from different industries including telephone operators, vehicle producers, infrastructure and service providers, software developers, and automotive suppliers. These companies have subcontracted 19 research and development centres across Spain to work on the project. The results, after four years of work, were presented in February 2011 in Barcelona by the Minister of Science and Innovation, Cristina Garmendia. ‘This project is all about offering a great great service to all citizens,’ said Ms Garmendia at the presentation ceremony, who also stressed that, through this project, a group of Spanish companies now leads product niches in the global security market and efficiency in transport. ‘We not just talking about patents or business expectations, but also marketed products that are already generating wealth and jobs,’ she added.
TSS, who markets and develops Aimsun traffic simulation software, was closely involved in the area of IT and mobility, particularly the study of accidents, automatic incident detection and strategic planning. TSS actively participated in the Working Group 5 research and development activities and, among other innovations, demonstrated the benefits of coupling the Aimsun traffic simulator with a centralised traffic control centre to optimize traffic flows in urban areas. A pioneer in this area, TSS also developed the anticipatory route guidance concept within the MARTA framework, aiming to offer centralised dynamic route guidance based on equilibrium oriented traffic assignment. This route guidance system is capable of taking real-time incidents into account and providing different alternative routes to individual navigation users.
Using microsimulation in the analysis of road safety, TSS improved the behavioural models of vehicles in the Aimsun microscopic model, refining the models of vehicle tracking and lane changes based on video analysis of vehicle trajectory. This improvement has been made possible by the decoupling of the reaction time of the passage of vehicles made at the beginning of the simulation project. Obtaining accurate models has been fundamental to the use of simulation as a tool for evaluating strategies to improve road safety.
Another major contribution was the preparation of the simulator for event management: TSS prepared a mesoscopic traffic model which was the ideal compromise between the microscopic level of simulation (which has a high level of granularity but correspondingly high calibration requirements) and macroscopic (which is static rather than dynamic and lacks detail). This enabled TSS to simulate networks the size of entire major cities faster than real time. Furthermore, TSS developed a Dynamic User Equilibrium (DUE) traffic allocation that calculates the optimal distribution of vehicle flows on a road network where capacity has dropped due to an incident or any other event. This tool has been instrumental in the preparation of the concept of the anticipatory guidance system, shown in the final demonstration of the project.
TSS also worked closely with ETRA Group to forge a real-time connection between the microscopic simulation and the strategic control centre. This connection has demonstrated how taking microscopic simulation as a tool for prognosis greatly improves the positive impact of strategic control. To test and validate the interactive system, TSS developed a simulation model of Valencia city centre and it was this model that was used during the final demonstration project.