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A Simulation-Based Test Bed for Networked Sensors in Surface Transportation Systems

Why Do We Need a Test Bed?

Urban transportation systems face many important challenges that have large impacts on modern societies. Foremost are issues concerning safety, delays due to congestion, pollution from vehicle emissions, and vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters. Sophisticated, integrated sensor/actuator systems offer the potential to make significant inroads in alleviating these problems by making our roads and highways more safe, efficient, environmentally friendly, and robust to unanticipated events. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication via ad hoc wireless networks present new opportunities for innovative applications with reduced public infrastructure investments. However, to make this vision a reality, test beds are needed to provide a framework for experimentation and evaluation of new technologies under realistic operating conditions prior to deployment in targeted intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

What Will the Test Bed Do?

This project will realize a simulation-based test bed for rapid evaluation and integration of sensor and actuator systems in ITS. The project will use this test bed to explore architectural alternatives for data networks supporting ITS applications. The proposed test bed will feature:
  • An integrated parallel simulation capability including interoperable simulations of transportation infrastructures, wired and wireless communication networks, and distributed computing applications,

  • An emulation capability enabling one to conduct "live" experiments with prototype hardware and software embedded into virtual transportation systems created by the test bed, and

  • Integration of data from a pool of instrumented vehicles operating in the Atlanta metropolitan area providing second-by-second sensor data concerning the vehicles' location, velocity, and acceleration, among others; live data from road sensors in the Atlanta area will also be used for model and scenario development and validation of simulations.

How Will the Test Bed Be Developed?

Test bed research will focus on developing a modular, federated simulation/emulation approach using a software backplane to interface vehicular traffic and communication network simulations, data from instrumented vehicles and roadway sensors, and prototype hardware and software. A distributed execution capability will be studied using multiprocessors and clusters of workstations to enable the test bed to scale to model moderate to large systems. A study comparing architectural alternatives for data networks for ITS applications will be used to drive the development and evaluation of the test bed.

Test bed software will be designed to be portable, and will be made available to the research community. The test bed will also be used to create a laboratory environment that will be incorporated into courses on networks, simulation, and transportation.

Who Is Funding This Research?

This research is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of a 3 year ITR project ( #0219976).