Intelligent transportation systems are projects that aim to integrate modern communication and information technology into existing transportation management systems in order to optimize vehicle life, fuel efficiency, safety, and traffic in urbanized cities.
The need for intelligent transportation systems stems from the fact that traffic congestion has been increasing all around the world because of increasing population, increasing amount of transportation vehicles and increasing urbanization.
Wireless communication technologies have been proposed, tested and used for intelligent transportation systems. From the short-range communications systems like WAVE or IEEE 802.11 protocol to the range extended by utilizing mesh networking or mobile ad hoc networks, many possibilities exist. Long-range communications systems like GSM or WiMAX which are far more expensive and complicated have also been proposed.
The installation of operational systems and processors in transportation vehicles have also allowed software applications and artificial intelligence systems to be installed. These systems include internal control of model based processes, ubiquitous computing and other programs designed to be integrated into a greater transportation system.
Floating Car Data or FCD
Floating car data on the other hand makes use of the availability of location data garnered from mobile phones by the network carriers. Since this data is updated constantly throughout the day, they can be used as traffic probes showing points where there is traffic congestion, the average traffic speed and traffic direction. Moreover, since this system requires no costly infrastructures and equipment like cameras or sensors and is not affected by adverse weather, it is one of the strongest contenders for intelligent transportation systems.
Sensing technologies involve embedding sensors along the road or the surrounding infrastructure like traffic posts, signs and buildings. These sensors include inductive loops that can sense the vehicles’ speed, the number of vehicles passing as well as the size of these vehicles. Video detection, on the other hand, involves the installation of video cameras onto road structures such as poles or billboards to detect occupancy information on the lanes, vehicle speeds, vehicles heading the wrong way, etc.
Applications of Intelligent Transportation Systems
Automatic Toll Collection
Intelligent transport systems are used for automatic toll collection where the vehicles can pass through without slowing down. This eliminates choke points along routes having toll booths and enforces cordon zones in some cities. Automatic toll collection systems make use of radio devices, infrared systems, RFIDs, license plate recognition systems and barcode stickers.
Vehicle Notification Systems
Intelligent transport systems particularly the FCD model can also be used to provide advance warning to motorists of traffic jams, accidents and other emergency situations. This system can then provide alternative routes or recommendations to motorists so as to avoid congestion and travel delays.
With the intelligent transportation system, cordon zones can also be enforced where mass transportation systems are available and their use encouraged. Cordon systems make it possible to collect taxes from those entering city areas with high traffic while encouraging the use of mass transit.