Proposed Test Site
The intersection of Sixth and Deakin Streets in
Moscow, Idaho (below) is the proposed site for the
first field implementation of Plug-and-Play Smart
Traffic Signals. This isolated intersection is a
major access point to the University of Idaho campus
and carries passenger car, bus emergency vehicle
traffic and is near a railroad crossing.
This site was selected because of the high
volume of pedestrian and bicycle traffic, the close
proximity to the UI campus, and the limited number
of signal displays at the intersection. Of the three
approaches to this intersection, pedestrians can
only cross two, limiting the amount of equipment
that will be required for this pilot test.
Street is the most common approach for emergency
vehicles entering campus and is close to a railroad
crossing. These situations give us an opportunity to
investigate pedestrian signal operation during
What has already happened . . .
The University of Idaho has developed a
revolutionary technology to unshackle the power of
modern traffic controllers locked inside the traffic
controller cabinets. The result is safer access for
all intersection users by providing better
information for pedestrians and drivers. Based on
state of the art plug and play smart sensor
technology, intersections can be renovated to
accommodate the smart signal technology with minimal
cost and disruption to traffic. New detectors that
can identify and communicate who is requesting
service to the traffic controller can now be easily
integrated into traffic operations. The purpose of
this conference is to help direct the focus of
transportation researchers and engineers on how best
to use this enabling technology.
Countdown pedestrian signals in use today display
the incorrect time every time the signal timing
plans change. In 2006, a group of electrical and
computer engineering students demonstrated a new countdown pedestrian
signal that displays the correct
remaining crossing time by providing real-time
direct communications with the microprocessor
inside the traffic controller. They also demonstrated
pedestrian activation devices that acknowledge the
pedestrianís request. The smart pedestrian button
includes remote activation for low vision or
mobility impaired pedestrians.
The group of
received awards at the
University of Idaho 2006 Engineering Expo.
Why do things differently?
Existing traffic signal designs have grown out 1920ís
technology that was based on electric motor timers and
electro-mechanical relays. They used individual wires from
the relay switches to control each signal light. In recent
times, the timing plans are now controlled with
microprocessor technology and the signals are switched using
solid-state electronics. But the method using a plethora of
conductors for distributing the signal and detector state
around the intersection has changed little leading to high
installation and maintenance costs. The bottom line is this:
detectors canít be anymore sophisticated that a light switch
and signals can be no smarter than a light bulb.
With existing technology, regardless of how smart
detectors are, there is no way for the traffic controller to
differentiate a truck carrying hazardous materials from a
camper pulling a boat or a logging truck. There is no way
for a blind or mobility impaired pedestrian to inform the
traffic controller that he or she needs additional time to
cross and intersection. Presently, there is no way to
selective assist pedestrians like children of school age.
Read more about the research that has been done.
Enter "plug" as a keyword in the NIATT research