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Mid-America Transportation Center

 

Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory


The Traffic Management Center (TMC) is housed in the Nebraska Transportation Center's Intelligent Transportation System’s (ITS) Laboratory. Room 2051 (TMC) is rectangular in shape with approximate dimensions of 20'x50' of useable space for the TMC workstations. The TMC includes an adjacent room, ITS 2051AA, that has been configured to serve as the TMC Equipment Room. Room 2051AA is rectangular in shape with approximate dimensions of 21'x10'.

The TMC and TMC Equipment Room have raised floors which include an under-floor cable management system that includes cable trays, floor boxes with connections for power and network, and power and data cables that include slack cable. The cable management system is installed under the raised floor in both the TMC and the TMC Equipment Room.

The layout of the TMC includes the following elements:

  1. Flat panel video wall composed of three rows of four LED/LCDs installed on the wall separating the TMC and the TMC Equipment Room. The video wall has low-profile bezel monitors to minimize the visibility of lines between the monitors. The monitors are sized to meet the available space on the video wall and user requirements of the TMC. The video wall includes a digital matrix switch to allow for multiple configurations of displays.
  2. Three fixed TMC workstations are positioned in front of the video wall and next to the column closest to the TMC entrance ramp. These fixed TMC workstations extend to the hallway entrance to Room 2051A.
  3. Movable TMC workstations are positioned behind the fixed TMC workstations. Three rows of two moveable workstations are positioned approximately 5’, 10’, and 15’ behind the TMC fixed workstations.
  4. The Equipment Room utilizes six communication racks and cable trays. Additional TMC hardware equipment, including servers, video matrix switch, and other networking equipment identified as part of the TMC design, is housed in the Equipment Room. The incoming data is connected to the city networks through a high-speed fiber optic communications link. These connections are for data retrieval from test beds throughout the city, and this data is brought back and stored on our data collection servers. The current state-of-the-art servers, data histogram and data archival system consist of 40 terabytes of data storage with expansion capabilities of above 120 terabytes. These are backed up on a data server and/or a tape system. All data can be streamed, stored, or routed to the TMC workstations in the ITS Lab and played back and analyzed on individual workstations or played on the video wall.

Instrumented High Speed Isolated Intersection Test Bed Facility


Wavetronix LLC with Dr. Anuj Sharma of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Nebraska Transportation Center developed a prototype "Safe Track Protection and Advance Warning System" sensor for improving safety and efficiency at high-speed isolated signalized traffic intersections. Wavetronix LLC had received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the Department of Transportation to develop such a system. Two state-of-the art test beds placed in Utah and Lincoln, Nebraska were deployed as a part of this project. These are the only test beds in the United States with the ability to track vehicles over a range of 1,000 ft.

The sites consist of three Digital Wave Radar sensors used for tracking vehicles over a range of 1,000 ft. Two pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) video cameras are the integral part of the system for ground truthing and sensor fusion enhancement.

  1. The following guidelines pertain to the Nebraska site selection:
  2. The intersection approach has the following characteristics:
    1. signalized traffic control without AWS flashers
    2. a posted speed limit of 55 mph
    3. two through lanes
    4. minimum roadside clutter
    5. median between directions of travel
  3. The collection system has been designed with the following power/communication options:
    1. A fiber and power homerun connection from the sensor pole to the traffic cabinet provides AC power and RS-485 communication. The small cabinet on the pole can communicate with the traffic control cabinet over this fiber line.
  4. The sensor pole has the following characteristics:
    1. The pole is located approximately 500 feet from the stop line.
    2. The pole is offset about 15 feet from first lane.
    3. Three sensors (each about 5 lbs), two PTZ video cameras and one small cabinet (less than 14 cubic inches) near the base are mounted on pole. A side-fire sensor is mounted about 20 feet and forward, and reverse-fire sensors are mounted higher (about 25 feet). The pole cabinet currently holds a computer for data collection.
  5. The main traffic cabinet consists of these additional components:
    1. A small microcontroller communicates with the pole cabinet and also acts as a time server.
    2. The phase information is captured using clamp-on transformers on the load switch wires going to the signal head.

 

Intelligent Transportation Systems Van


The laboratory features an advanced video detection system with traffic management and visualization software. The ITS van’s mobile lab allows a wider range of studies to be performed. The van is equipped with two Autoscope Solo Pro cameras with computer and video recording equipment needed to process, record, and store traffic data. The cameras are mounted on a 42 ft. telescoping mast.

Mobile Test Bed Trailer Facility


A mobile test bed was developed to replicate the system on 84th St. and Highway 2 in Lincoln, Neb. The set of detectors was mounted on a mobile trailer, thus giving it flexibility to be placed at any site. The communication link with the traffic signal cabinet is provided using wireless communication using 900 MHz radio. The range of this wireless communication is 1,500 ft. depending on the site conditions. In a recent project, the mobile test bed was enhanced by installing a Savari StreetWAVE unit to provide vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Below is an image of the mobile test bed facility.

Coordinated Arterial Test Sites


The coordinated approaches of intersections at i) 17th and G streets and ii) Cornhusker Highway and 27th Street in Lincoln, Neb., have been instrumented using multiple sensors.

For wide area detection, the Wavetronix SmartSensor Advance is being used. The SmartSensor Advance has a detection range of 500 feet and is installed on the traffic signal mast arm at both locations.

The Sensys Wireless Vehicle Detection System is being used for the stop bar and advance detectors. The Sensys Wireless Detection System has four components: flush-mount wireless sensors, a repeater, an access point, and contact closure cards. Three wireless sensors, which include one stop bar detector and two advance detectors, are needed per lane. A repeater is needed to relay the advance detector information to the access point, which transfers the data to the contact closure card located inside the traffic cabinet. The access point also relays the stop bar detectors' information to the contact closure card. The pictures below show the relative locations of each hardware component in the field at 17th and G streets.

3D Image of Access Point, Wavetronix, and Video Camera


The photo below shows data collection capability at 17th and G streets in Lincoln, Neb. This is an extensively instrumented intersection with the capability of collecting detector actuations, signal states, wide area vehicle tracking and simultaneous video recording of the existing traffic condition. SCADA software by Wonderware is being used for data collection. Each intersection has digital I/O devices collecting the phase information and detection actuations as well as an IP-based PTZ camera communicating with a central server hosted in the Lincoln Department of Public Works. The SCADA software’s human machine interface provides a capability of overlaying the video with the detector and phase status. This can be recorded and later used for performing the ground truthing. The historian of the SCADA system time stamps and records all the detection and phase actuations. Also, Longwatch software can be used to record video and tag it with any anomalies observed in detector status. The instrumented intersection at 27th Street and Cornhusker Highway has similar capabilities.

The photo below shows data collection capability at 17th and G streets in Lincoln, Neb. This is an extensively instrumented intersection with the capability of collecting detector actuations, signal states, wide area vehicle tracking, and simultaneous video recording of the existing traffic condition. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software by Wonderware is used for data collection. Each intersection has digital I/O devices collecting the phase information and detection actuations as well as an IP-based PTZ camera communicating with a central server hosted in the Lincoln Department of Public Works. The SCADA software’s human machine interface provides a capability of overlaying the video with the detector and phase status. This can be recorded and later used for performing the ground truthing. The historian of the SCADA system time stamps and records all the detection and phase actuations. Also, Longwatch software can be used to record video and tag it with any anomalies observed in detector status. The instrumented intersection at 27th Street and Cornhusker Highway has similar capabilities.

The data collected at this system has the capability to measure cycle-by-cycle performance measures for the instrumented approach. Soon, a plan will be implemented to expand these systems to monitor all the approaches.

Hybrid Energy Test Bed


The project titled “A Roadway Wind/Solar Hybrid Power Generation and Distribution System: Towards Energy-Plus Roadways” is funded by the Exploratory Advance Research program of the Federal Highway Administration.

The project has generated a lot of local and national interest. A one-of-its-kind test bed in the United States has been installed at 84th Street and Highway 2 (shown at right). The test bed will be used to build models for energy resource estimation, prediction and power consumption at a signalized traffic intersection. Dr. Sharma is currently building a driving simulator to evaluate the impacts of the wind generator on driver behavior. These test beds are used to integrate research with graduate and undergraduate education. State-of-the-art test beds are indispensable resources to provide "hands-on" experience to the students.

Instrumented Highway-Rail Grade Crossing


Each year, numerous crashes involving severe injuries are reported at highway-rail grade crossings across the United States. While published literature on highway-rail grade crossing safety is relatively sparse compared to the safety of highway segments or intersections, crashes at highway-rail grade crossings are invariably the result of errors committed by highway users. There is a significant need to monitor the behavior of motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists at highway-rail grade crossings on a long-term basis. Also, there is a need to test various countermeasures that can enhance safety.

Researchers at the Nebraska Transportation Center have studied the grade crossing at N. 141st St. in Waverly, Neb., on a limited basis for assessment of safety and countermeasure evaluation (shown at right). This grade crossing is in the vicinity of a major state highway and close proximity to an operating traffic signal. The geometry and roadway traffic characteristics are unique, resulting in significant potential for understanding the interactions between roadway and train traffic.

Establishment of this grade crossing as a permanent test bed will give the researchers opportunities to study user behavior as well as conduct countermeasure evaluations. Needs for test bed setup include installation of day- and night-vision cameras on both sides of the crossing as well as setup of wireless communications with the Transportation Operations Laboratory.

Roundabout Test Bed Facility


Construction of roundabouts in place of traditional four-legged intersections is becoming increasingly common in the United States. These were adopted in the early 1990s from Europe and Australia, where they are more common. The roundabout is a circular intersection with channelized approaches requiring entering drivers to yield to traffic in the circle and allowing for continuous traffic flow through the intersection at speeds less than 30 mph. Roundabouts provide operational and safety benefits and are increasingly recommended as part of new construction or retrofitting of existing intersections. Roundabouts have been constructed in Nebraska starting with the first roundabout along a major urban arterial in 2002 at the intersection of 33rd Street and Sheridan Boulevard in Lincoln. Transportation agencies in Nebraska plan on constructing additional roundabouts across the state in the near future. While some research pertaining to operational characteristics of roundabouts exists in published literature, issues related to driver behavior and accommodation of bicyclists/pedestrians are less understood. Acquisition of such information and a better understanding of user needs is in the interest of enhanced public safety. Additionally, there is a need for a permanent roundabout test bed that can provide a steady stream of data on roundabout user behavior. The establishment of a roundabout test bed that allows researchers at the Nebraska Transportation Center to study a variety of roundabout issues such as safety, user behavior, and traffic operations will be invaluable.

The city of Lincoln has replaced the four-legged intersection at 14th and Superior streets with a roundabout. It was proposed that a roundabout test bed be established at this location that allows monitoring of traffic before and after construction of the roundabout. Establishment of the proposed roundabout test bed will benefit public safety and help with more efficient traffic operations.

Mobile Driver Stress and Traffic Conditions Monitoring


Dr. Sharma has also been exploring the innovative idea of using driver anxiety as a measure of performance of the transportation system. His research has been supported from both internal funding and Mid-America Transportation Center funding. For successful investigation in this area, he has partnered with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska Omaha, the truck driving training program at Central Community College in Hastings, Neb., and Werner Enterprises. A prototype onboard driver stress and traffic flow information monitoring system was developed during the course of this research.

The monitoring system consists of:

  1. An integrated GPS and inertial measurement unit to monitor vehicle position, velocity, and acceleration.
  2. BioPac MP150 for measuring driver's ECG and galvanic skin conductance.
  3. Prosilica camera to monitor the road conditions.
  4. Logisys truck PC to time stamp and log all the information.

A software program was developed to time stamp and record information coming from multiple streams. Dr. Sharma is currently using this system to measure driver stress under varying driving conditions.

Highway Rail Grade-Crossing Test Bed


UNL has recently established a test bed in Lincoln, Neb. The purpose of the test bed is to provide a platform to investigate ITS applications with respect to highway traffic operations near the railway intersection. Traffic signal preemption and train arrival information are some of the applications that can be investigated by the test bed system. The test bed is capable of collecting data on train speeds in a multiple-track environment. The equipment used is a day/night camera, Doppler radar sensor, video processor, hardened DVR, media converter, and hardened switch. The research conducted at the test bed evaluates the performance of video image detection and Doppler radar, which detect train speeds in a multi-track environment and the interaction with the intersections and train signaling.