Background

Traffic management

Many European countries, like The Netherlands, have a dense road network and significant traffic problems. Crowded roads have a negative effect on both the economy (the time and cost of transporting goods and workers are increased) and the environment (fuel is burned unnecessarily and air particle pollution is generated when traffic jams arise). The flow of traffic on Europe’s roads is managed by a series of TMSs, owned and controlled by various local and national authorities. TMSs generally consist of collections of distributed devices, installed along the roadside, which have either the role of a sensor collecting traffic data (e.g. cameras, radar detection systems, induction loops), or of an actuator communicating instructions to road users.

Cyber-physical systems

A given TMS must interact with neighbouring TMSs that usually have different owners. A TMS can be regarded as a “Cyber-Physical System”. CPSs are systems that link the physical world (e.g., through sensors or actuators) with the virtual world of information processing. They are composed from diverse constituent parts that collaborate together to create some global behaviour. These constituents will include software systems, communications technology, and sensors/actuators that interact with the real world, often including embedded technologies.

Improving control

TEMPO aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a TMS with a decentralised and distributed (over the constituent TMSs) control architecture. Current TMS architectures are heavily centralised around regional control centres. Such a concept is not scalable, however, and it becomes increasingly difficult to continue adding new devices and systems to the TMS, by connecting them to a central hub, as their number grows. Centralisation also hinders efficient management of traffic problems that straddle boundaries between TMSs because the locally installed devices cannot communicate directly across the border. In The Netherlands cooperation between various road authorities has improved significantly over the last couple of years and as a result the basis for the governance of cooperating TMs is now in place. However, technical barriers for a decentralised/distributed TMS are still in place.

Improving support

Previous projects, e.g. the European funded FRAME project have developed user needs to describe a future road traffic system in which the TMS communicates with in-car devices. TEMPO aims to use and extend well-founded modelling approaches to show that decentralisation would facilitate the introduction of such a system. This will improve the TMS’s ability to communicate with, and monitor a large number of devices. However, in order to be capable of doing this, the modelling notations need to be able to express notions such as localisation and control mechanisms, and have easy ways of visualising this. The project will achieve this by adding library support to the existing Overture platform technology (http://www.overturetool.org/) and make use of the CPSE Design Centre at Newcastle University for training, scoping and assistance in modelling.