Implementation and Validation of a Cost-Effective Networked Radar-Based Highway Traffic Speed Measurement System

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The Ohio State University

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Successful traffic management requires that there is reliable traffic speed information available for both research and decision-making purposes. Currently traffic monitoring is most commonly done with loop detectors, which are embedded into the roadway and can be used to detect the speed of a car passing over. Unfortunately, loop detectors are expensive, limiting the number of locations where they are cost-effective to use, and therefore restricting the total amount of traffic speed data that can be measured. Furthermore, they have a significant installation cost, potentially result in permanent damage to the roadway surface, and require that traffic lanes be closed in order to install which results in traveler delays. This project consisted of the development of a cost-effective radar-based alternative to loop detector stations. It employs a bidirectional police radar connected to a server in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Columbus Traffic Management Center (TMC) via an existing fiber optic network. Analysis of the data obtained from the prototype radar unit as compared to data from the existing loop detector station demonstrates that a system of this type could be a suitable substitute for a loop detector in certain situations, and provides insight into the corrections required for reconciling radar data with loop detector data.



Radar, Loop Detector, Transportation, Traffic Monitoring