No-jam recipe

Nottingham is to host trials of a telematics system developed by BT, capable of transmitting traffic information between vehicles and control centres.

The company is leading the Traffimatics project, which is developing technologies to take information from a car’s on-board sensors and communicate via Wi-Fi with other vehicles or the highway infrastructure.

The technology is to undergo a three-month trial, beginning next April, at Nottingham’s Traffic Control Centre in which the equipment will be installed on between five and 10 Ford cars. Traffic lights on several streets around the centre will be fitted with wireless access points to create a Wi-Fi network.

Operators at the centre will have access to a display with data gathered from the vehicles superimposed on to a map. Information on problems such as traffic jams and road blockages will be transmitted to the centre, said George Bilchev, research group leader for the project at BT. Controllers could then request images of the affected area from vehicles fitted with video cameras, he said.

The team will investigate the feasibility of integrating the Traffimatic data within existing traffic control systems. In parallel to the trial, the team will also conduct a large computer simulation of the system, to gain further information such as the number of cars needed to make the network most effective. ‘The idea is to improve the traffic control, especially in urban areas, and this will result in lower levels of pollution and reduced fuel consumption,’ said Bilchev.

The project, which is partly funded by the DTI, also involves Nottingham Trent University, communications and telematics specialist Shadow Creek Consulting and in-car diagnostics company Influx Technologies. The project’s funding will cover the cost of building 50 in-vehicle devices, Bilchev said.

The telematics system will use the Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGI), a Java-based platform widely used in the automotive industry. The system will be kept generic, allowing other applications to be added over time.

‘This is in contrast to the way current black boxes in vehicles work, where you install a specific box to do a specific task, such as congestion charging, and then in several years’ time when there is another application you have to install another one,’ he said.

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