College Station, Texas — The Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University and the City of College Station are joining forces with seven key private sector companies to help design, develop and test safer, smarter intersections.

“Smarter intersections will play a key role in improving mobility and enhancing safety for the public,” noted TTI Director Dennis Christiansen. “Complex, multimodal environments where vehicles, buses, pedestrians and bicycles intersect are challenging in the best of circumstances. As traffic volumes increase, those challenges quickly multiply.”

The potential benefits of smart interchanges go far beyond better signal timing. Imagine, for example, an afternoon commute during which vehicles alert drivers to stalled traffic miles before the lines begin – and suggest alternate routes.

The ability to detect traffic flow and volume, analyze complex traffic data in real time, calculate multiple route alternatives and send the resulting recommendations to vehicles approaching a congested intersection will change the congestion equation. Rather than dealing with traffic choke points on an intersection-by-intersection basis, such technologies promise to address the problem systemically – to dynamically shift traffic patterns on the fly. The convergence of intelligent vehicle systems, traffic monitoring technologies, and active roadway infrastructure will shift mobility management from a reactive strategy to a dynamic, real-time system.

The Smart Intersections Initiative is the first of several promising developments coming out of the Transportation Technology Conference sponsored by TTI and held last month at The Bush School’s Annenberg Conference Center in College Station, Texas.

Several key players in transportation-related automation – among them Econolite Group, EDI, Iteris, McCain, MoboTrex, Savari and Siemens – have indicated preliminary interest in the initiative. Talks are underway with others.

“We are delighted that these companies and the City of College Station will be partnering with Texas A&M researchers in this significant initiative,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “We are always looking for ways to collaborate with the private sector to make life better in Texas and beyond.”

The project will be based at The Texas A&M University System’s new RELLIS campus, announced by Chancellor Sharp at the Technology Conference.

The research will be conducted in three distinct environments: laboratory, a controlled environment featuring several intersections constructed at the RELLIS campus, and ultimately at live intersections in the City of College Station.

“The Smart Intersection Initiative will bring together researchers, traffic signal manufacturers, communications providers, data and analytics companies, system integrators and many others to research and advance this next generation of traffic signal operation,” Ed Seymour, Associate Agency Director at TTI, explained. “Each partner has distinctive strengths in their respective fields; this synergy focused on a common goal has enormous potential.”

Work will center on practical application of evolving automated and connected vehicle and infrastructure technologies. The goal is to streamline signal operations, enhance safety and improve overall mobility.

TTI has long been recognized as a leader in traffic signal research through traffic optimization software, sensors, controllers and advanced traffic operation strategies. For the past five years, TTI has led the connected vehicle traffic signal research effort for the U.S. Department of Transportation with the deployment of traffic signal, phase and timing research at the DOT’s Turner-Fairbank Research Center.

The initiative will take advantage of TTIs existing traffic signal laboratory and expand to the new full-scale signal testing facility at the RELLIS campus.