Using detection of vehicular presence to estimate shockwave speed and upstream traffics for a signalized intersection

Hsun-Jung Cho*, Ming Te Tseng, Ming Chorng Hwang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Based on the Lighthill-Whitham-Richards (LWR) traffic flow theory, this paper provides alternative methods to compute shockwave speed mainly by using detection data that reflects three states of vehicular presences: vehicles in moving, vehicles stopped, and void of vehicles. As the duration of a state is firmly identified within a cycle, the proposed methods compute shockwave speeds directly by means of Euclidian geometrics on time-space trajectory of shockwaves. This approach is also applicable to congested signal links with a long queue (but a residual queue) beyond detection zone. In addition, given signal timing and the shockwave speeds calculated by the methods, characteristics of arrival traffics, i.e. upstream flow rate and speed, can be predicted before the end of current cycle. It justifies that the methods are capable of whether to extend green phase before next cycle or not and will be a promising tool for real-time operations of signal control. Finally, the predicted shockwave speeds, upstream flow rate, and space mean speed by the proposed method are testified using simulated data from CORSIM. The mean absolute percentage errors of the estimated speeds of forward recovery shockwave and backward forming shockwave are 4.0% and 12.4% respectively. For the predicted flow rate and space mean speed of downstream arrival traffics, the mean absolute percentage errors are 18% and 4%, respectively. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of the presented approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1151-1165
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Mathematics and Computation
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2014


  • LWR traffic flow theory
  • Shockwave speed
  • Signal control
  • Vehicle detection

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