Siemens has developed a traffic-management system that uses real-time information on speed and congestion to calculate toll fees down to the minute.
Many densely populated areas have problems with traffic during peak periods. Special lanes, whose use is subject to a fee, are often provided to improve the flow of traffic and to encourage people to form car pools or use public transportation.
The greatest challenge here is the need to set the fees at a level that will ensure the lane’s capacity is sufficiently utilised and that traffic jams will be prevented. Siemens Mobility has now developed a traffic-control system that uses induction loops in the road surface to register the speed and numbers of vehicles on the free driving lanes and the fast lane.
At the heart of the system is a complex algorithm that uses the measured data to calculate the toll fees down to the minute.
Ultimately, this leads to evenly distributed traffic density on the special lane; when traffic is light, the toll fee drops, giving drivers an incentive to use the lane; and when traffic gets heavier, the fee increases, which deters some drivers and thus prevents congestion.
The updated toll fee is displayed on electronic traffic signs at entrances to the fast lane. For calculating the toll fee, a video system films the vehicle’s licence-plate number when it enters the lane. The fee can be debited from the bank accounts of drivers who have registered for this option in advance; otherwise they receive a bill.
The fast lane is 12km long and makes it possible to cover the distance in about 12 minutes — compared with the 30–60 minutes the trip can take during peak hours, according to Siemens.
The company added that a very promising market for the new traffic-control system is the US, where there are already many fast lanes in use, but so far with little flexibility of toll calculation.