Topics for MSc assignments

The goals of ITS Edulab's research are the same goals that the Dutch Ministry of Transport established in 2006 in its Mobility Policy Document: an improved traffic situation on the road network, higher traffic safety and a better quality of the living environment (lower emission levels, less noise and air pollution). The most important means that Rijkswaterstaat, the operator of the main road network, has at its disposal to reach these goals, are traffic management (including traffic information and incident management), road pricing, and road construction and maintenance. These themes are also well covered in the ITS Edulab research program. The focus in these research topics is on how to use the measures in such a way that the above mentioned goals can be reached. Using the menu on the left you can find out more about the various research topics, related to the goals and/or the applied means.


Topics for your MSc assignment

Big data is everywhere. But how can it be used in urban traffic management? Or in traffic information services that can help manage the traffic in a city? This is a generic topic with a wide range of questions that need answers, such as: What kind of big data are we talking about (what would be useful if you want to manage traffic)? How can big data help us understand and predict when and where traffic management needed (oversaturated intersections, events, bad weather, severe incidents)? What data are available ("open data") to road authorities / service providers / application developers? What data would they have to purchase (and would that be cost effective)? What kind of applications/services could be built that offer more than existing applications/services? Or: How could existing applications/services be enhanced with big data?

Multimodal traffic management. Traffic management in urban networks is considerably more complicated as a great variety of transport modalities with different characteristics are using the same network. For example, a green wave for cars often will not be a green wave for cyclists. And priority for public transport vehicles at an intersection simply means that other modes will have to wait longer. The problem that needs to be addressed is whether there are control principles that can be applied on the basis of a socially responsible allocation of the available capacity. Prior to formulating these control principles it will be necessary to investigate which conflicts between the various modes (may) occur and what dilemmas will be encountered when searching for a solution.

Flexible infrastructure. Although traffic demand fluctuates throughout the day, the infrastructure present to accommodate that demand is mostly fixed. Notable exceptions are the so called rush hour lanes. These are lanes that are opened to traffic during times of increased traffic demand. When not in use to serve regular traffic, they are used as emergency lanes as most of the time it concerns converted shoulder lanes. Similarly, urban roads also have to deal with fluctuating demand throughout the day. In some areas there are clear flows in the morning that enter an area whereas in the evening the same flow can be seen to leave the area. Traffic lights are used to ensure that traffic can pass an intersection safely and efficiently. The inflow and outflow of traffic is however constrained by the number of entry- and exit lanes for a direction. A flexible assignment of the entry and exit lanes at an intersection could provide a more efficient use of an intersection throughout the day. The first part of the research will be to determine whether flexible infrastructure could indeed decrease travel time losses by traffic that needs to pass these intersections. The second part will be to determine how this could then be realized in practice.

Speed limits and weaving. The southern part of the Amsterdam ringroad includes a lot of short weaving sections. For safety reasons perhaps an 80 km/h limit is the best, but for traffic operations itself a limit of 100 km/h seems more appropriate. The question is what aspects are relevant for weaving behaviour and how this a certain speed limit influences these aspects.

Queue length estimation and prediction. In research and traffic modelling there is much attention for the development of congestion and queues. However, detailed knowledge about how a queue dissolves is lacking. But this is important for the prediction of travel times or the development of traffic models.

For the planning of road works Rijkswaterstaat is looking for a method to estimate the effects of road works on congestion. If they know the extra congestion due to a complete closure or a lane closure for a certain motorway (for the different days in the week and holidays), they are able to better plan their road works.

Aging and driving behaviour. The population of The Netherlands is aging, especially in the areas outside the Randstad. How does this effect traffic flows and driving behaviour? How do we take this into account in traffic models? 

CO2 emissions. How can traffic management contribute to the goals set for CO2 emission reduction? In traffic control centres scenarios are used to improved traffic flows during peak hours, incidents or special events. For these scenarios the emphasis is on traffic flow, but maybe they can also be used for improving environmental conditions.

But of course, it is possible to discuss other subjects which are interesting to Rijkswaterstaat, Delft University and you!