Probe vehicle based real-time traffic monitoring on urban roadways

Yiheng Feng, John Hourdos, Gary A. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Travel time estimation and prediction on urban arterials is an important component of Active Traffic and Demand Management Systems (ATDMS). This paper aims in using the information of GPS probes to augment less dynamic but available information describing arterial travel times. The direction followed in this paper chooses a cooperative approach in travel time estimation using static information describing arterial geometry and signal timing, semi-dynamic information of historical travel time distributions per time of day, and utilizes GPS probe information to augment and improve the latter. First, arterial travel times are classified by identifying different travel time states, then link travel time distributions are approximated using mixtures of normal distributions. If prior travel time data is available, travel time distributions can be estimated empirically. Otherwise, travel time distribution can be estimated based on signal timing and arterial geometry. Real-time GPS travel time data is then used to identify the current traffic condition based on Bayes Theorem. Moreover, these GPS data can also be used to update the parameters of the travel time distributions using a Bayesian update. The iterative update process makes the posterior distributions more and more accurate. Finally, two comprehensive case studies using the NGSIM Peachtree Street dataset, and GPS data of Washington Avenue in Minneapolis, were conducted. The first case study estimated prior travel time distributions based on signal timing and arterial geometry under different traffic conditions. Travel time data were classified and corresponding distributions were updated. In addition, results from the Bayesian update and EM algorithm were compared. The second case study first tested the methodologies based on real GPS data and showed the importance of sample size. In addition, a methodology was proposed to distinguish new traffic conditions in the second case study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-178
Number of pages19
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Arterial travel time estimation
  • Bayesian inference
  • Mixture normal distribution
  • Probe vehicle
  • Real-time traffic monitoring


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