Deployment of a Virtual Sensor System Based on AVL-Equipped Probes in an Operational Traffic Management System

A few agencies have adopted the use of real-time probe vehicles for traffic surveillance. The University of Washington (UW) has developed technology to reliably create virtual sensors to augment those installed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). However, real-time probe vehicle technology has not been accepted into any large traffic management agency. This project will work in coordination with WSDOT to expand the existing trial of transit-based, probe vehicle, virtual sensors. There are both technological and institutional issues to be addressed. For example, on the technology side, issues such as threshold values for traffic information displays, using virtual sensors that are acceptable to traffic management personnel, need to be validated in real world application. On the institutional side, the researchers will need to work with the agency to design guidance for operations personnel when using virtual sensors for traffic management. This will allow WSDOT to expand its surveillance capabilities without the expense of installing inductance loop equipment in the roadways and without the communications infrastructure expense.