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Signal Ops For Mac!


This chapter documents the principles of basic traffic signal timing at an intersection. Signal timing is a collection of parameters and logic designed to allocate the right-of-way at a signalized intersection. A major focus of this chapter is to describe basic signal timing parameters necessary to operate an intersection and guidelines for selecting values for those parameters. The principles described in this chapter are generally applicable to all signalized intersections. To maximize the usefulness and transferability of the information provided, the chapter uses the terminology defined in current traffic signal control standards, such as National Transportation Communications for ITS Protocol (NTCIP) Document 1202 (1) and National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Standards Publication TS 2-2003 (2), with alternative definitions in some cases.




Signal Ops for Mac!



Traffic signals operate in either pre-timed or actuated mode or some combination of the two. Pre-timed control consists of a series of intervals that are fixed in duration. Collectively, the preset green, yellow, and red intervals result in a deterministic sequence and fixed cycle length for the intersection. In contrast to pre-timed control, actuated control consists of intervals that are called and extended in response to vehicle detectors. Detection is used to provide information about traffic demand to the controller. The duration of each phase is determined by detector input and corresponding controller parameters. Actuated control can be characterized as fully-actuated or semi-actuated, depending on the number of traffic movements that are detected. Table 5-1 summarizes the general attributes of each mode of operation to aid in the determination of the most appropriate type of traffic signal control for an intersection. The attributes of the various modes of operation are discussed in additional detail in the following subsections.


Pre-timed control is ideally suited to closely spaced intersections where traffic volumes and patterns are consistent on a daily or day-of-week basis. Such conditions are often found in downtown areas. They are also better suited to intersections where three or fewer phases are needed (3). Pre-timed control has several advantages. For example, it can be used to provide efficient coordination with adjacent pre-timed signals, since both the start and end of green are predictable. Also, it does not require detectors, thus making its operation immune to problems associated with detector failure. Finally, it requires a minimum amount of training to set up and maintain. On the other hand, pre-timed control cannot compensate for unplanned fluctuations in traffic flows, and it tends to be inefficient at isolated intersections were traffic arrivals are random.


Semi-actuated control has several advantages. Its primary advantage is that it can be used effectively in a coordinated signal system. Also, relative to pre-timed control, it reduces the delay incurred by the major-road through movements (i.e., the movements associated with the non-actuated phases) during periods of light traffic. Finally, it does not require detectors for the major-road through movement phases and hence, its operation is not compromised by the failure of these detectors.


Fully-actuated control refers to intersections for which all phases are actuated and hence, it requires detection for all traffic movements. Fully-actuated control is ideally suited to isolated intersections where the traffic demands and patterns vary widely during the course of the day. Most modern controllers in coordinated signal systems can be programmed to operate in a fully-actuated mode during low-volume periods where the system is operating in a "free" (or non-coordinated) mode. Fully-actuated control can also improve performance at intersections with lower volumes that are located at the boundary of a coordinated system and do not impact progression of the system (). 4Fully-actuated control has also been used at the intersection of two arterials to optimize green time allocation in a critical intersection control method.


The minimum green parameter represents the least amount of time that a green signal indication will be displayed for a movement. Minimum green is used to allow drivers to react to the start of the green interval and meet driver expectancy. Its duration may also be based on considerations of queue length or pedestrian timing in the absence of pedestrian call buttons and/or indications. A minimum green that is too long may result in wasted time at the intersection; one that is too short may violate driver expectation or (in some cases) pedestrian safety. The minimum green interval is shown in Figure 5-2, as it relates to other intervals and signal control parameters. Calls placed on the active phase during the minimum green have no bearing on the duration of the green interval as the interval will time at least as long as the minimum green timer.


The intent of the minimum green interval is to ensure that each green interval is displayed for a length of time that will satisfy driver expectancy. When stop-line detection is not provided, variable initial, as described in Section 5.4, should be used to allow vehicles queued between the stop line and the nearest detector at the start of green to clear the intersection. In cases where separate pedestrian signal displays are not provided, the minimum green interval will also need to be long enough to accommodate pedestrians who desire to cross in a direction parallel to the traffic movement receiving the green indication. These considerations and the conditions in which each applies are shown in Table 5-2.


The maximum green parameter represents the maximum amount of time that a green signal indication can be displayed in the presence of conflicting demand. Maximum green is used to limit the delay to any other movement at the intersection and to keep the cycle length to a maximum amount. It also guards against long green times due to continuous demand or broken detectors. Ideally, the maximum green will not be reached because the detection system will find a gap to end the phase, but if there are continuous calls for service and a call on one or more conflicting phases, the maximum green parameter will eventually terminate the phase. A maximum green that is too long may result in wasted time at the intersection. If its value is too short, then the phase capacity may be inadequate for the traffic demand, and some vehicles will remain unserved at the end of the green interval.


One method used by some agencies is to establish the maximum green setting based on an 85th to 95th percentile probability of queue clearance (6). The procedure requires knowledge of the cycle length, or an estimate of its average value for actuated operation. If the cycle length is known, then the maximum green setting for a signal phase can be obtained from Table 5-6.


A second method for establishing the maximum green setting is based on the equivalent optimal pre-timed timing plan (7). This method requires the development of a pre-timed signal timing plan based on delay minimization. The minimum-delay green interval durations are multiplied by a factor ranging from 1.25 to 1.50 to obtain an estimate of the maximum green setting (8).


Many professionals believe that keeping one lane of traffic (in a left turn or a minor street) moving in deference to a major street with multiple lanes results in inefficient operation. Research has shown that measuring flow rates across lane groups and comparing them with the potential demand at an approach may provide improved decision making within the signal control logic.


The guidelines provided in this section are based on the assumption that non-locking memory is used and that one source of detection is provided (per lane) for the subject signal phase. This source of detection could consist of one long detector loop at the stop line, a series of 6-foot loops that are closely spaced and operate together as one long zone of detection near the stop line, or a single 6-foot loop located at a known distance upstream of the stop line (and no detection at the stop line). As discussed in Chapter 4, passage time is a design parameter for detection designs that include multiple detectors for the purpose of providing safe phase termination (i.e., indecision zone protection). The passage-time value for this application is inherently linked to the detection design and should not be changed from its design value.


Traffic signal controllers have several settings that can be used to modify the vehicle actuations. Traditionally, this functionality was available only in the detection unit that served as an interface between the vehicle detector and the signal controller. Its implementation in the controller unit has streamlined the signal timing process and can duplicate functionality that may be in the detection unit.


Most controllers provide a means to externally apply signal timing parameters by time of day; typically these include maximum green, phase omit, and minimum recall on a time-of-day basis. Depending on the manufacturer, time-of-day selection of pedestrian omit, maximum recall, pedestrian recall, detector switching, overlap omit, additional maximums, alternate walk intervals, and other parameters may also be available. The approach specified by NTCIP 1202 for activating phase and ring controls invokes a timing pattern that can be selected on a time-of-day basis (34). In NTCIP protocol, a timing pattern consists of a cycle length, offset, set of minimum green and maximum green values, force off (determined by splits in some cases), and phase sequence. It also includes specification of phase parameters for minimum or maximum vehicle recall, pedestrian recall, or phase omit. This will be further described in Chapter 6.


The 32-bit Arm Cortex-M4 processor core is the first core of the Cortex-M line up to feature dedicated Digital Signal Processing (DSP) IP blocks, including an optional Floating-Point Unit (FPU). It addresses digital signal control applications that require efficient, easy-to-use control and signal processing capabilities, such as the IoT, motor control, power management, embedded audio, industrial and home automation, healthcare and wellness applications.


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