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How much traffic congestion is on the road ahead? The answer is often ‘it depends’. The traffic that’s trying to turn off at the next junction might be backed up bumper-to-bumper, while the cars that are going past it on the inner lane are whizzing along. Or maybe it’s the other way round.
Because it’s hard to identify the specific lanes that cars are travelling on from current GPS signals, it’s therefore tricky for traffic reporting systems to identify situations like the above. Instead, you get an average speed of both the backed-up traffic and the freely moving vehicles.
That’s not ideal for route planning – and might lead you to avoid a more direct route that’s actually faster than the average road speed suggests – because the traffic conditions are different for each lane.
HERE took this chronic problem head on and created a novel solution: Split Lane Traffic Reporting at Junctions. SLT Reporting at Junctions is based on an innovative and proprietary new algorithm by HERE described in our latest white paper. The algorithm solves the fundamental problem of reporting two different traffic speeds on a single road segment.
To create the white paper and service HERE scanned its maps for major junctions and highway splits around the world, where there might be heavily congested traffic in one lane, and freely moving traffic in another. It turned out that there are over 100,000 such highway junctions worldwide. Then we rated each of these junctions according to how frequently there were significant differences in the speeds for each lane.
The solution identifies when there are very different traffic speeds being recorded around these junctions. It decides whether each of these probes belongs to the backed-up lane or the faster-moving lane, splitting the recorded speed for the road accordingly. SLT reports can show three speed profiles: free-flowing traffic, slow moving lanes, and congestion.
“For the first time Split Lane Traffic Reporting creates the information necessary for a driver to know the road conditions in front of them down to the lane level. This is a solution tailored for all of us who’ve had to play the game of guessing which lane is the fastest to be in while stuck in traffic at a highway junction,” said Tony Belkin, Director of Traffic and Dynamic Content for HERE. “Split Lane Traffic Reporting at Junctions is the latest example of the innovative, quality driven and solutions based approach we take at HERE.”
Split Lane Traffic Reporting information will be automatically fed into the HERE Real Time Traffic service to provide better intelligence for drivers and for our routing software. Split Lane Traffic Reporting serves as an important example of the first-to-market products HERE delivers in support of not only today’s driver setting, but the increasing use of highly automated driving assistance systems.
As more cars are able to take advantage of this information, and are guided by highly-automated systems, we anticipate that overall traffic congestion itself will be reduced, together with the costs, wasted time, extra emissions and frustration that comes with these situations.
Image credit: Chatchai Kritsetsakul