Anjie Liu, a civil engineering graduate student, is using simulation software to help traffic controllers decrease vehicle emissions.
Liu relies on technology from traffic solutions company Miovision, which uses video processing to gain information about traffic congestion and flow. Cities are already using Miovision’s technology to optimize traffic routes and reduce congestion.
Traffic simulations can offer precise estimates
By using real traffic data and simulations, Liu’s emissions estimates are precise and take multiple factors into account. “Emissions are very related to traffic data,” she explains. “You could measure emissions on a wider scale, basing your estimate solely on the distance a vehicle travels. But we’re using a more precise method that takes other factors into account, like braking, idling and accelerating.”
In her traffic simulations, Liu re-enacts what happens with vehicles at an intersection. The results are compared to real-world data from Miovision’s technology. “The traffic simulation is validated by data from Miovision, and tells us that we are on the right track,” says Liu. Then she runs a second simulation to estimate the emissions that would occur with those traffic events.
Using the results of her simulations, Liu, currently in her second year of her masters, is developing a framework that can estimate emissions immediately, without any need for time-consuming simulations. Her framework could give traffic controllers accurate, real-time estimates about vehicle emissions.
Environmental and economic impact
With an accurate estimate, traffic controllers can better understand how their roads and intersections affect the environment and fuel economy, and it could help them make changes that decrease vehicle emissions.
“It’s all about environmental impact and fuel economy,” says Liu. “The average driver can’t do too much about how often they are accelerating, braking and idling. However, a traffic controller can help reduce those things – and that will also reduce emissions.”
In the future, traffic technology like Miovision’s could incorporate Liu’s framework to provide valuable emissions data to traffic controllers and government officials.