Cafe Scientifique: “Smart Traffic Signals”

February 3, 2015

Dr. Stephen F. Smith

Research professor in the Robotics Institute and Director of the Intelligent Coordination and Logistics Laboratory
Carnegie Mellon University


Smart Traffic Signals

Traffic congestion in United States metropolitan areas is an increasing problem, now estimated to cost travelers $121 billion annually in lost time and fuel consumption, and to release 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. In this talk, Dr. Stephen F. Smith will describe recent research aimed at addressing this problem through smart traffic signals. A smart traffic signal perceives approaching traffic in real time and dynamically allocates green light time to move all current traffic through the intersection as efficiently as possible. Signal plans are coordinated with neighboring smart signals. Smith will summarize how this technology works, present results obtained from an initial experimental deployment of smart traffic signals in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and discuss future opportunities for smart signal systems to exploit emerging connected vehicle technology (which will shortly enable direct communication between traffic signals and vehicles) to enhance the safety and mobility of urban travelers.

Smith is a research professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is director of the Intelligent Coordination and Logistics Laboratory. Smith's research focuses on the theory and practice of next-generation technologies for planning, scheduling, coordination, and optimization. For the past several years, he has directed the SURTRAC (Smart URban TRAffic Control) adaptive traffic signal control project, which has developed a decentralized system for real-time optimization of urban traffic flows. Current research with SURTRAC focuses on optimization of traffic flows involving passenger vehicles, buses, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and on integration of smart signal control with connected vehicle technology.


Recorded Monday, February 2, 2015 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA