NYUAD researchers study traffic management in 25 cities

Abu Dhabi: Researchers at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) have created a comprehensive review of fundamental traffic patterns with the goal of improving understanding of traffic management systems worldwide. The researchers looked at traffic data from 2.3 billion vehicle observations in 25 cities.

The study, which also aims to promote the creation of improved traffic modeling and reduce congestion, is a comprehensive review of 50 traffic flow models developed over the past 85 years. It was developed by Daniel Bramich, research scientist, and Dr. Monica Menendez, professor of civil and urban engineering at NYUAD and director of the CITIES research center. The project, titled “Fitting Empirical Fundamental Diagrams of Road Traffic: A Comprehensive Review and Comparison of Models Using an Extensive Data Set”, was published in the journal “IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems”.

Type of road and level of congestion

The researchers found that a model with minimal assumptions outperformed other traffic flow models, independent of variables such as road type and level of congestion. The winning model is nonparametric, which means that its number of free parameters can vary as needed, but without overfitting the data. This represents a break with traditional parametric models (with a fixed number of parameters) and opens the door to new approaches to understanding data with the ultimate goal of improving traffic management and reducing congestion.

Largest data set

With unprecedented access to a large and well-controlled sample of traffic data from cities around the world, the review avoids the shortcomings of previous reviews, which did not have access to a dataset of this magnitude and did not take all the best traffic flow patterns into account. Specifically, the amount of data this study had access to is about 100 to 1,000 times larger than any of the datasets from previous studies, and the number of models studied is about ten times larger than the previous studies.

“Important resource for traffic engineers”

“We hope our review will become the ‘one stop shop’ for researchers seeking to understand the development of current traffic patterns. We believe this will be an important resource for traffic engineers when designing traffic infrastructure, including traffic signal timing and speed limits, for cities around the world,” said the researchers.

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