The concept of the Internet of Things has recently taken the world of technology by a storm and has lead to the development of smarter homes. However, the potential of IoT is much greater and can, in fact, be harnessed to create smart cities too. One such application of IoT is the development of smart traffic control systems that adapt to the current traffic conditions and ensure a smoother traffic flow.
In this Article, we will shed some light on how such an adaptive traffic control system can be designed. You will learn about the following topics:
Let us begin with an introduction of how a basic traffic control system operates.
Consider a simple traffic intersection where each lane of traffic is controlled by a traffic light. In such a scenario, each lane is typically offered a predetermined duration of green light, followed by a predetermined duration of yellow light and red light respectively.
These time durations are usually decided based on the average, minimum, and peak traffic at the intersection on an average day. When the time slots for each traffic light are predefined, the electronic circuitry required for the development of this basic traffic control system turns out to be fairly simple. One can use an 8051 microcontroller with 3 output ports that switch on and off the lights based on the delays programmed by the user.
Although the circuitry of a basic traffic control system is easy to implement and is fairly inexpensive, it comes with a few cons, as described below:
It is quite intuitive that a fixed timing model for traffic signals cannot really provide optimal traffic flow at all times of the day and under all circumstances. This is why one often hears complaints about mismanaged traffic or of being encountered by only red lights throughout a journey.
This is where smart or adaptive traffic control systems come into the picture because they come with an intelligence to modify the green and red times of a particular lane based on the current traffic conditions. Furthermore, with the help of IoT, these intelligent traffic control systems can also communicate with each other, to form an interconnected network. Therefore, the development of such smart traffic signals can resolve the traffic related issues of a city to a large extent.
In the next section, we will discuss what the prerequisites are for building these intelligent traffic control systems.