VicRoads has just introduced a world-first in digital innovation, intended to ease the pain of poor traffic flow and stoppages.
The system analyses the volume, speed, and distance between cars over a stretch of highway in real-time.
This data is collected by sensors on the road surface and can regulate traffic through adjusting the speed limit on automated signage.
The theory of the system – called The Adaptive Variable Speed Limit (AVSL) – is based on the idea that high speed does not expedite faster travel over a distance on a motorway, but is central to the problem of congestion.
This is because driver response time to ‘fast/slow/stop/start’ nature of motorway traffic – especially in heavy traffic – is not uniform.
Drivers need time to recover from sudden stoppages and conversely, in the incidence of rapid acceleration, there can be a lag in response to the sudden alteration of conditions.
The advantage of an AVSL is that it prevents congestion by enabling a consistent pace to the flow of vehicles, allowing more cars to move through a carriageway without the threat of interruption.
The AVSL plays a similar role to technology used on UK motorways, like the MIDAS, where sensors send vital data to incoming traffic, alerting them to variance in conditions.
The Minister for Road and Roads Safety, Luke Donnellan, said the innovation is about being smarter with the way the state manages traffic: “We can get Victorians home sooner so they can spend more time with their family and friends.”
Based on an algorithm developed in collaboration with VicRoads and the Technical University of Crete, the AVSL is set to work on the M80 – the Western Ring Road – a stretch of motorway used by approximately 160,000 drivers every day which can have a top limit of 100km/h.
The new technology will be placed in a spot known to locals for its long ‘car park’ delays – Furlong Rd to Sunshine Ave – and officials on the project say that AVSL could reduce speeds here, to as low as 70kms/h.
This was also the site whereVicRoad first trialled the system two years ago.
The AVSL will form a part of VicRoads $300 million M80 upgrade, and there are plans to roll-out the system across the state’s freeways over coming years.