Saving energy through better traffic management
Soon, road workers will be seen at Italian junctions planting sensors for a novel system to speed up the traffic, under development by ESA Business Incubation Centre-supported Italian start-up company Nabla Quadro.
The idea is to make better use of existing road infrastructures such as traffic lights to reduce congestion and queues, which cause not only higher transport costs, wasted energy and lost working hours, but also more noise and air pollution.
Nabla Quadro’s Sky Light Intersection System automatically adjusts the traffic light sequence at crossings based on the traffic to optimise the vehicle flow.
Battery-powered sensors embedded in the road monitor the cars passing in each lane. Installation is a simple 15-minute job because they do not need any wiring and just a small round hole in the asphalt.
Using wireless radio repeaters, the sensors inform the controller unit in real time about the traffic so it can sequence the lights to minimise queues. The Sky Light traffic controller 'learns' about each junction’s peculiarities such as the variations in daily traffic density and adjusts accordingly.
The first system was set up in Genoa, Italy in October 2012 and is now under evaluation with the Genoa municipality.
[this article was originally published on 21 March 2013 on the ESA Technology Transfer site]