19 January 2012

Traffic Lights

I guess we're all experts on traffic lights.  After all, we sit in our cars long enough looking at them.   Perhaps there is indeed a big computer at VicRoads that synchronizes them in some way, but sometimes I wonder.    There are few things more frustrating than to sit at a red light while the next light is green, but that light turns to red just as you approach it.   This sometimes occurs in busy Dandenong Rd in Windsor, where to make matters worse, the second set of lights is a pedestrian crossing that extends only across one side of the road, and could easily and logically be programmed to fit in with the traffic flow without affecting traffic on any side street or even indeed the traffic coming in the other direction!
And there are a couple of other locations in the area - which I have consistently observed over a period of time -  where the synchronisation at most times of the day appears to be nearly as poor.
Given this, I wasn't sure what to make of a report in the Australian IT section this week, about a team researching a theoretical physics-based model.  They aim to design "novel algorithms to run traffic signals in a more intelligent way".  My initial reaction was that a bit of common sense applied to the worst of the existing settings would be a good place to start.
Meanwhile, yesterday there was a team with a laptop computer next to the open control cabinet at a nearby intersection.....not sure what they might have been up to!

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