Every driver knows the feeling. Stopped at a red light – with not a single crossing driver in sight. This situation is not only deeply annoying – it is also a major societal challenge. According to the Danish Road Directorate, Danes waste 360,000 hours every day on being stuck in traffic.
However, the company Advanced Traffic Systems (ATS), founded as a spin-out from Aalborg University, has developed a highly promising technology that contributes to making traffic move much more smoothly in traffic-light-controlled intersections. Several Danish municipalities as well as cities in both India and China have shown an interest in the company’s products, just as several potential investors have come forward.
ATS’ technology is based on research from the Department of Computer Science and the Department of the Built Environment at Aalborg University, and the company founders are all either former or current university employees. One of them is ATS CEO, Andreas Berre Eriksen, who is currently on leave from his PhD studies at the Department of Computer Science in order to devote himself fully to the company.
- We utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence. In practice, we install a box in the control cabinet of the traffic light, and this receives a lot of data that forms the basis of the traffic light control. This includes the number of cars present, but also the timeliness of busses and the traffic flow in nearby intersections. Once a second, the algorithm calculates the optimal control strategy for the intersection for the next 20 seconds – and this ensures that the traffic lights are continually adapting to the current state of traffic, Andreas Berre Eriksen says.
Huge potential for both climate and drivers
One municipality that has already tested the technology is Vejle in Southern Denmark. A test on a large intersection at one of the major approach roads to the city has shown that the system reduces traffic delays with 18 percent.
- It has a positive effect on tailbacks, the number of stops, fuel consumption and total travel time. Even though we are a small country, I will dare to say that there is an enormous potential in reducing congestion on Danish roads – both for the climate and for the drivers, says Andreas Berre Eriksen, who expects to return to the university within a few years.
Until then, he intends to continue drawing on the competences that started the traffic success in the first place.
- Research needs to be put to work. As an entrepreneur, having our roots in a university environment is really awesome – it gives the company substance to be supported by a sound institution and strong researchers. Now, we need to work on spreading the word and extending people’s understanding of the technology around the world. In this, we especially need to focus on proving that the technology is reliable in terms of traffic safety – but we do not at all expect that to be a problem, Andreas Berre Eriksen says.
The core of the ATS technology is UPPAAL, a software tool that researchers at DiCyPS – Center for Data-Intensive Cyber-Physical Systems at Aalborg University have developed over the past 20 years.
ATS was founded by Andreas Berre Eriksen (CEO), PhD student at the Department of Computer Science (currently on leave), in collaboration with Professor Kim Guldstrand Larsen, Department of Computer Science, Associate Professor Harry Lahrmann, Department of the Built Environment, and PhD student Jakob Taankvist, Department of Computer Science.
Professor Kim Guldstrand Larsen
Department of Computer Science, Aalborg University
Telephone: 2217 1159
CEO Andreas Berre Eriksen
Advanced Traffic Systems (ATS)