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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-95-126
Advanced Traffic Management Simulator To Support Development Of Human Factors Design Guidelines
Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) will be instrumental in minimizing congestion and delays on our roadways. To accomplish this, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) ATMS research program is investigating the human factors requirements of Traffic Management Center (TMC) operators using real-time descriptions of roadway status to manage traffic flow.
TMC operators engage in three primary activities during traffic management; each of these activities is expected to have significant support from automation. In the first activity, data relevant to traffic status are transmitted to the TMC from a variety of sources. These sources may include traffic counters, closed-circuit cameras, radio, and telephone. In the second activity, the TMC analyzes the incoming information to determine whether TMC action on traffic conditions is appropriate and which type of action is required. In the third activity, detailed messages designed to implement these actions are then transmitted to the appropriate receiver.
According to current analyses from Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), automation would contribute to several traffic management support systems, including incident detection and location, traffic prediction, incident advisories, information dissemination, and adaptive traffic control. How the operator shares his or her tasks with automation is basic to the development of a successful TMC design. This proposition is supported by research in other uses of automation and advanced technology, such as in aviation and nuclear power plants.
At present, the advantages and limits of automated systems in a traffic management center are not yet well defined. For instance, improper design of these systems could result in too much data for the operator to process. In certain cases, operator mistrust of automation may appear. For instance, the effects on operator performance of a malfunctioning automatic information processor are not clear. There are also questions about when a specific task should be completed automatically, by an operator or by an operator in combination with automation.
Human Factors ATMS Research Simulator
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This research was conducted by Georgia Tech Research Institute.