How it works and operates
At the core of Smarter Motorways' technology is its operating mechanism - the traffic management system.
Traffic management systems have been used to coordinate traffic lights on state-controlled roads in Brisbane and in cities across the world for decades. With the advent of smart technology, traffic management systems have significantly evolved, providing exciting opportunities to manage congestion and optimise performance on our motorways.
The traffic management system employed by Smarter Motorways uses sophisticated algorithms to analyse real time traffic data, enabling it to predict when traffic congestion is about to occur. Before this can take place, the individual technologies that comprise the traffic management system are activated, communicating with each other and proactively responding by moderating signals to reduce delays and encourage traffic flow to continue.
For example, if an on-ramp is experiencing large volumes of traffic, it will communicate to other nearby on-ramps on the motorway, requesting that they moderate signals to reduce the flow onto the motorway. This will allow the congested on-ramp to clear. Once the congested on-ramp has recovered, traffic signals will automatically adjust and increase on-ramp traffic flow to maximise traffic volume on the motorway.
Some of the intelligent technologies that collect traffic information include:
- traffic counting detectors, spaced approximately every 500 metres on the motorway. These detectors sense the frequency of traffic flow and communicate with the system to moderate traffic signals up and down the motorway. Traffic counting detectors can also identify if an incident has occurred
- weather detectors, which intelligently monitor wind, rain and visibility conditions, identify weather condition changes and automatically adjust the speed limits and ramp signals to suit road conditions
- Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) and webcams, which feed footage on the motorway to centralised traffic management centres. These assist with analysing traffic conditions, confirming incidents and monitoring recovery and emergency service responses
- technicians, in the traffic management centres, operate in conjunction with the traffic management system, adjusting system responses where required to effectively manage motorway traffic
- emergency phones at regular intervals.
Real time information gathered from these technologies automatically feeds into the traffic management system, enabling it to intuitively respond by:
- closing lanes in response to accidents or incidents, and directing traffic into adjacent lanes
- communicating travel times and travel information to commuters on electronic message signs to assist with their journey
- adjusting speeds on variable speed signs to prevent the onset of stop-start traffic. Enforcement of speed limits will be carried out by police
- altering the frequency of traffic lights on motorway on-ramps, thereby reducing or increasing traffic flow onto the motorways as required.