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Title: Real-time estimation of travel time using low frequency GPS data from moving sensors
Author: Sanaullah, Irum
ISNI:       0000 0004 2737 0263
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2013
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Travel time is one of the most important inputs in many Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). As a result, this information needs to be accurate and dynamic in both spatial and temporal dimensions. For the estimation of travel time, data from fixed sensors such as Inductive Loop Detectors (ILD) and cameras have been widely used since the 1960 s. However, data from fixed sensors may not be sufficiently reliable to estimate travel time due to a combination of limited coverage and low quality data resulting from the high cost of implementing and operating these systems. Such issues are particularly critical in the context of Less Developed Countries, where traffic levels and associated problems are increasing even more rapidly than in Europe and North America, and where there are no pre-existing traffic monitoring systems in place. As a consequence, recent developments have focused on utilising moving sensors (i.e. probe vehicles and/or people equipped with GPS: for instance, navigation and route guidance devices, mobile phones and smartphones) to provide accurate speed, positioning and timing data to estimate travel time. However, data from GPS also have errors, especially for positioning fixes in urban areas. Therefore, map-matching techniques are generally applied to match raw positioning data onto the correct road segments so as to reliably estimate link travel time. This is challenging because most current map-matching methods are suitable for high frequency GPS positioning data (e.g. data with 1 second interval) and may not be appropriate for low frequency data (e.g. data with 30 or 60 second intervals). Yet, many moving sensors only retain low frequency data so as to reduce the cost of data storage and transmission. The accuracy of travel time estimation using data from moving sensors also depends on a range of other factors, for instance vehicle fleet sample size (i.e. proportion of vehicles equipped with GPS); coverage of links (i.e. proportion of links on which GPS-equipped vehicles travel); GPS data sampling frequency (e.g. 3, 6, 30, 60 seconds) and time window length (e.g. 5, 10 and 15 minutes). Existing methods of estimating travel time from GPS data are not capable of simultaneously taking into account the issues related to uncertainties associated with GPS and spatial road network data; low sampling frequency; low density vehicle coverage on some roads on the network; time window length; and vehicle fleet sample size. Accordingly this research is based on the development and application of a methodology which uses GPS data to reliably estimate travel time in real-time while considering the factors including vehicle fleet sample size, data sampling frequency and time window length in the estimation process. Specifically, the purpose of this thesis was to first determine the accurate location of a vehicle travelling on a road link by applying a map-matching algorithm at a range of sampling frequencies to reduce the potential errors associated with GPS and digital road maps, for example where vehicles are sometimes assigned to the wrong road links. Secondly, four different methods have been developed to estimate link travel time based on map-matched GPS positions and speed data from low frequency data sets in three time windows lengths (i.e. 5, 10 and 15 minutes). These are based on vehicle speeds, speed limits, link distances and average speeds; initially only within the given link but subsequently in the adjacent links too. More specifically, the final method draws on weighted link travel times associated with the given and adjacent links in both spatial and temporal dimensions to estimate link travel time for the given link. GPS data from Interstate I-880 (California, USA) for a total of 73 vehicles over 6 hours were obtained from the UC-Berkeley s Mobile Century Project. The original GPS dataset which was broadcast on a 3 second sampling frequency has been extracted at different sampling frequencies such as 6, 30, 60 and 120 seconds so as to evaluate the performance of each travel time estimation method at low sampling frequencies. The results were then validated against reference travel time data collected from 4,126 vehicles by high resolution video cameras, and these indicate that factors such as vehicle sample size, data sampling frequency, vehicle coverage on the links and time window length all influence the accuracy of link travel time estimation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Travel time estimation ; GPS data ; Map-matching ; Vehicle penetration rate ; Sampling frequency