Rutgers, UCLA Awarded $2 Million to Develop Smart Technology that Reduces Urban Congestion, Air Pollution

Rutgers, UCLA Awarded $2 Million to Develop Smart Technology that Reduces Urban Congestion, Air Pollution

Three-year study funded by National Science Foundation aims to integrate today’s largely disconnected traffic management systems

BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant
worth nearly $2 million to Rutgers and UCLA to develop intelligent metropolitan
traffic management technology that reduces urban traffic congestion and air

wireless computer networking, the technology will monitor traffic flow and air
quality, and then in response, recommend alternate routes to drivers via on-board
navigation devices. The technology could also offer drivers incentives to follow
different routings that balance overall flow and temper pollution hot-spots.

technology, to be developed by experts in computer science, urban planning,
atmospheric sciences and environmental health sciences at both universities,
aims to enhance and integrate traffic management ideas now being implemented by
metropolitan transportation agencies.

solutions for traffic management are largely disconnected,” said Liviu Iftode,
professor of computer science in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers.
“We not only have to make smarter systems –
such as traffic lights that sense and respond to
traffic flow and on-board navigators that receive information about delays – we also need
to make it possible for them to share information directly so they can immediately
react to changing conditions.”

a principal investigator on the three-year, $1.94 million collaborative grant, said
the research is both a computer science challenge – collecting and sharing data
over Wi-Fi or 3G wireless networks between thousands of sensors and vehicles – and
a modeling problem – analyzing air pollution and traffic flow profiles for
real-time traffic control.

“We expect our work to be particularly relevant to New York City and
Los Angeles, where traffic congestion is the major pollution factor and
increasing walkability is desired,” said Mario Gerla, professor of computer
science at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and
also principal investigator on the collaborative grant. “For the first time,
thanks to wireless technology, we can close the loop between centralized
traffic management, on-board navigators and drivers. This is our chance to
bring congestion and pollution under control and make our cities livable again.”

researchers will test concepts they develop on UCLA’s Campus Vehicular Testbed,
a fleet of several university cars, vans and buses equipped with wireless
networking technologies.

these technologies to be adopted, they would need to be unobtrusive for the
driver,” said Iftode, particularly when it comes to proposing routes that
charge premiums or offer credits to control congestion and pollution. “Drivers
should be allowed to set upper bounds for the congestion/pollution fees they
are willing to pay in advance, then on-board navigators can offer shortest-time
routes that fit their budget.”

Gerla and
Iftode have  previously collaborated on
traffic management research, such as their highway with lane reservation
concept that would allow drivers to pay to reserve a time slot in a designated
lane that is guaranteed to flow without congestion. Born in Italy and Romania,
respectively, the researchers also expect European cities to show interest in
the research because of Europe’s environmental focus.

years ago, Iftode worked with the University Politehnica of Bucharest in his home
country to evaluate the impact of using wireless commmunication between
vehicles and traffic lights to adjust traffic light timing and cut emissions. This collaboration continues with new vehicular
applications and studies of how interaction with on-board navigation systems affects
driving. Gerla has collaborated with Politecnico di Milano,
Italy, to develop the Mobile Mesh Network (MobiMesh), now a key component of the
UCLA vehicle testbed. In turn, Italian researchers are now examining the UCLA
testbed for future use in Italian urban scenarios.

them on the project are computer science professor Badri Nath of Rutgers and research
scientist Giovanni Pau of UCLA Engineering. Also participating from UCLA are
atmospheric sciences professor Suzanne Paulson, urban planning professor Brian
Taylor, and environmental health sciences professor Arthur Winer.

About The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and
Applied Science

Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, established in 1945,
offers 28 academic and professional degree programs and has an enrollment of
more than 5,000 students. The school's distinguished faculty are leading research
to address many of the critical challenges of the 21st century, including
renewable energy, clean water, health care, wireless sensing and networking,
and cybersecurity. Ranked among the top 10 engineering schools at public
universities nationwide, the school is home to seven multimillion-dollar
interdisciplinary research centers in wireless sensor systems, nanoelectronics,
nanomedicine, renewable energy, customized computing, and the smart grid, all
funded by federal and private agencies. (

About Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

in 1766, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is America’s eighth
oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation’s premier public
research universities.  Serving more than
50,000 students on campuses in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick, Rutgers offers
more than 280 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degree programs.
The university is home to 28 degree-granting schools and colleges, and 180 research
centers and institutes.  (,

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