Cars and vans queuing in heavy traffic

Intelligent Variable Message Systems (iVMS)

Funder

Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP)

Value to Coventry University

Institute for Future Transport and Cities (IFTC): £400,000
Centre for Business in Society (CBiS): £40,000

CWLEP logo

Project team

IFTC (Research): Dr Olivier Haas (PI), Dr Stratis Kanarachos (Co-I), Stavros Christopoulos, Oluwaleke Agbaje, Clement Chaillou, Thomas Boulay
CBiS (Evaluation): Professor Nick Henry, Dr David Jarvis, Dr Andrew Jones

Partners

Coventry City Council; HORIBA MIRA; Siemens; Serious Games International; Institute for Future Transport and Cities, Coventry University; Centre for Business in Society, Coventry University; InfoHub

Duration of project

01/06/2016 - 30/03/2018


Project overview

Intelligent Variable Message Systems (iVMS) assessed how connected and automated vehicles interact on key corridors leading into Coventry’s city centre from the national road network.

The iVMS project drew on cutting edge expertise from Coventry University’s Institute For Future Transports and Cities (formerly Centre for Mobility and Transport) and the Centre for Business in Society. The centres supported the City Council in collaboration with project partners HORIBA MIRA, Siemens Mobility and Coventry University spin-out, Serious Games International (SGIL).

The focus of the research undertaken in Coventry was the exploitation of artificial intelligence, in particular neural networks, to model driver behavior and provide data to support the traffic simulation model calibration. Taking into account driver’s styles and habits it is possible to incorporate them into the route and time of travel suggestions to reduce congestion on Coventry roads and improve journey time reliability. The calibrated simulation model of the three iVMS corridors developed in Aimsun was used to evaluate the impact of peak spreading. It was shown that only minor changes in drivers habits could lead to significant benefits in terms of travel time and reduce congestion.

The independent evaluation of the iVMS project conducted by CBiS sought to provide funding partners with: a statement of achievements, delivery of objectives and value for money achieved by the project; and learning from implementation and for future replication of the project and similar activities. Delivery of the work programme and project outputs was achieved due to the quality of partnership working engendered by the project. This was a new consortium of multiple, but complementary, partners from across sectors with distinctive research, commercial, and social and economic drivers behind their project participation.

Project objectives

The aim of the project was to develop, demonstrate and test new traffic management systems, based on innovative iVMS technology, on three main road arterial routes into Coventry; and to demonstrate the potential for a reduction in congestion in one section of the city. 

The three key objectives of the iVMS project were to:

  • Increase the effectiveness of traffic management in Coventry, leading to reduced congestion and associated economic and social benefits;
  • Encourage behavioural change by individual travellers in support of congestion reduction; and,
  • Provide an enhanced test bed environment for future development of vehicle technologies and transport systems.

By enabling economic and social benefits associated with congestion reduction, providing an innovative model for traffic management technologies for the city, and a ‘test-bed’ capacity for future trials of innovative technology, the project is expected to support further local economic benefit to the sectors, businesses and citizens of Coventry. 

Coventry University focused on three aspects:

  • Overall economic evaluation of the project.
  • Modelling driver behaviour and their impact on traffic.
  • Modelling the three iVMS corridors to simulate the impact of changes in departure time (peak spreading) and route choice amongst the three corridors.

The independent evaluation of the iVMS project sought to provide funding partners with:

  • A statement of achievements, delivery of objectives and value for money achieved by the project; and
  • Learning from implementation and for future replication of the project and similar activities.

The evaluation was based upon:

  • A statement of the rationale for and the objectives of the iVMS project;
  • Sources of data for the project collected by the Partners linked to the use of resources, activities undertaken, and the results of the project, aligned against the evaluation framework; and
  • A baseline against which the achievements of the iVMS project activity can be assessed.
  • Research

    Increase the effectiveness of traffic management in Coventry, leading to reduced congestion and associated economic and social benefits.

    • iVMS has achieved an upgraded and better integrated traffic management platform that provides the infrastructural capability and capacity for targeted traffic management on the designated corridors. The capacity now exists for traffic management strategies and operational decisions to be implemented, in real time, and with subsequent data feedback loops providing ‘impact of decision’ information.
    • Nevertheless, until traffic management strategies are written and/or the iVMS App is fully incentivised this capability remains only ‘potential’, including the simulated economic benefits.
    • The effectiveness of the system has not been tested empirically to a substantial extent beyond that of determining a functioning operating system.
    • Modelling has identified the relative small scale of driver behavioural change required on the individual corridors to achieve congestion benefits – essentially small numbers of drivers slightly spreading their peak journeys - providing further clarity on the business case for, and desired travel outcomes sought, from any future traffic congestion intervention.
    • More broadly, the project has substantially informed greater knowledge and understanding of the costs and benefits of scaling the traffic management system to the whole of the city, including the infrastructure, technical and operational challenges of achieving such an outcome.

    Encourage behavioural change by individual travellers in support of congestion reduction.

    • The project has created the capacity and tool to encourage behavioural change – the iVMS App – but has not had the resource, expertise or time to test the tool in a meaningful manner.
    • The App failed to gain traction with and usage amongst its target set of drivers, principally due to a lack of incentivisation and associated marketing. It remains in existence but its proposition of behavioural change though gaming and incentivisation remains untested with individual travellers.
    • As a secondary outcome, enhancements to the existing UTC system and the development of the upgraded and integrated traffic management platform provide a greater ability to manage traffic flows, including individual behaviour, on the corridors – once traffic management strategies have been put in place.

    Provide an enhanced test bed environment for future development of vehicle technologies and transport systems.

    The most substantial achievement of the iVMS project has been to develop and extend the local test bed environment for vehicle technologies (and related smart city activity).

    • The enhanced traffic management platform generated under iVMS as the catalyst, integrator and leverage point for new research and service developments – research-driven, strategic and operational. For example, Appy Parking is developing its interface with UTC and Stratos, and the enhanced on-street monitoring infrastructure of the corridors has supported these corridors identification for planned air quality interventions.
    • The availability of new data streams including the upgrades applied to ‘on-street’ infrastructure are enabling Coventry University's Institute for Future Transport and Cities to undertake ‘near blue skies’ research into driver behaviour. This is combining these new data feeds with smartphone data to provide substantial ‘micro’ data on how both the driver and the car are behaving at any one moment. Similarly, combining data feeds supports the continuous process of (fine grained) traffic simulation (by HORIBA MIRA and Coventry University). Building the array of (novel) data, and its potential fusion within traffic management systems, ultimately creates greater breadth of traffic management possibilities (or parameters) and capacity for enhanced targeting of outcomes (such as emissions reduction or current incident response work by Siemens). The use of Bluetooth and smartphone data in this project is part of wider developments surrounding the use of ‘disruptive technologies’ (and substantially greater breadth of data) in traffic management systems.
    • Further consolidated recognition of Coventry City Council as sitting at the heart of new developments in intelligent transport systems, including the following current and new projects such as UK CITE, UK Autodrive, Appy Parking, CATCH!, SUITS, PARK-AV, and Urban DN.
    Simulation outcomes

    If as few as 6% of commuters change their departure time significant resuction in travel time can be achieved, thereby increasing accessibility to the city centre. These time savings will translate in some improvement in the attraction of city centre locations for business activities, potentially reflected in higher rents.

    Evaluation

    The evaluation of the Intelligent Variable Messaging Systems (iVMS) pilot project revealed further challenges associated with establishing smart-city infrastructure. Research found and tackled the interoperability of technology platforms, and the problem of organisational silos; issues that act against the realisation of a low-carbon urban mobility paradigm.

  • Christopoulos, S.G., Kanarachos, S. & Chroneos, A. (2019) ‘Learning Driver Braking Behavior Using Smartphones, Neural Networks and the Sliding Correlation Coefficient: Road Anomaly Case Study’. IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems 20 (1), 65-74.

    Stratis Kanarachos, Stavros-Richard G. Christopoulos, Alexander Chroneos, 2018, Smartphones as an integrated platform for monitoring driver behaviour: The role of sensor fusion and connectivity, Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, Volume 95, pp 867-882, ISSN 0968-090X.

    Kanarachos, S., Haas, O., Diels, C., 24 Jan 2018, Driver behaviour modelling using smartphone cameras, Poster session presented at The Midlands Intelligent Mobility Conference 2018, Nottingham, United Kingdom.

    Perraki, G., Haas, O., Christopoulos, S., Kanarachos, S., 24 Jan 2018, iVMS corridors modelling and calibration in Aimsun, Poster session presented at The Midlands Intelligent Mobility Conference 2018, Nottingham, United Kingdom.

    Perraki, G., Haas O., Christopoulos, S., & Kanarachos, S.  2018, iVMS corridors modelling and calibration in Aimsun, The Midlands Intelligent Mobility Conference 2018, Nottingham, United Kingdom.

    Haas O.C.L, 2017, Review of system identification and control algorithms used for smart motorways applications, IMPART Microsimulation for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, Loughborough University, 12 June 2017.

    Henry, N., Medhurst, J., Jarvis, D.& Jones, A., 6 Apr 2018, The Development and Demonstration of Smart Technologies to Improve Traffic Flow through Intelligent Variable Message Systems (iVMS): Evaluation Final Report, Coventry University. 39 p.

    Final Report 290318.pdf

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