Development of Traffic Simulation Laboratory for Design Planning and Traffic Operations (Phase II)
A key element in improving traffic operations and performing effective real-time traffic management is using simulation to assess the effectiveness of various alternatives prior to implementation. The research conducted here is Phase II of a three phased project with the ultimate goal of creating and running traffic simulation experiments in real-time. In the first phase, a set of well-known freeway simulators was evaluated. Major difficulties were a lack of real data, and the time consuming effort required to prepare data for each simulator. Phase I found that developing an integrated traffic analysis environment, where data processing, simulation and output analysis can be automated as efficiently as possible was of critical importance in improving traffic management and operations. In the second phase, the development of an Automated Simulations Tool (AST) was of critical importance. Phase II was partitioned into four major tasks: development of a Geometry Data Container (GDC), Creation of a partial Twin Cities Freeway Geometry, development of an AST, and specification of a real-time AST framework. Each part of this phase was essentially prescribed by the Phase I results. The GDC would be the design and implementation of a common geometry database that could be shared among different simulators. Initially, only a micro simulator would be implemented, but later other simulators could be added. Creation of a partial Twin Cities Freeway Geometry would be the base level common geometry that is entered. All the detail needed for a micro simulation is entered including freeway sections, detector locations and types, ramp meters, and other fine VII details. This work needs to be done only once with our design. Any subnetwork of the original entered network can be selected with a mouse and saved as a new network. Development of the AST will allow traffic engineers to select a freeway and a time period for simulation and then essentially run a simulation without any direct manipulation of data. Traffic engineers will not need to know anything about the data formats of either geometry or flow data in order to run a simulation. Finally, from what we have learned in Phase II we can specify what needs to be done for a real-time implementation of the AST: Phase III. By real-time we mean using the detector data as soon as it is available from Mn/DOT for simulation.