P18393: Traffic Light Cameras to Optimize Flow

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

Our goal as a team for the problem definition phase was to clarify the requirements of the project and gain a better understanding of what the customer was looking for.

During the past three weeks we were able to gather enough information to develop a set of customer requirements, as well as define several engineering requirements. While there are still several items that need to be solidified, we have the information and understanding necessary to move forward and begin research.

As a team, we identified the role each of us must take to ensure the completion of the management and technical side of the project.

Project Summary

The traffic light is a device that controls what directions of the intersection are given the right of way. When a car approaches an intersection with a green light and the intersection is clear of obstacles, the car may proceed to go through the intersection. During lighter traffic times, cars often have to come to a complete stop when approaching a red light with no other cars in sight.

In today's world, the current and most widely used technology to detect vehicles is the induction loop. This technology uses large coils in the ground to emit frequencies. Once a vehicle drives over or sits over the coil, eddy currents are induced into the coil which decreases the overall inductance. A controller notes the decrease in inductance as the presence of a vehicle which then tells the traffic controller there is a vehicle waiting. This system is expensive as it requires cutting the pavement of a road to lay down the coil and then repaving over the coil.

This project focuses on creating a new and improved traffic light system that is designed to decrease the average waiting time at traffic lights, which will directly decrease emissions from vehicles. This can be accomplished by making the intersection "smarter." That is, the intersection will need to detect the number of cars approaching earlier and this information will be put into an algorithm to determine which direction should receive the green light. By tracking cars before they get to the intersection, this will help reduce making a car perform an unnecessary stop for no traffic.

Use Cases

Car Approaches Intersection

Car Approaches Intersection

Emergency Responder Approaches Intersection

Emergency Responder Approaches Intersection

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

The final deliverable has two discrete parts: the software and the hardware. The software side involves the algorithm that receives the data from the car sensor and controls the traffic lights.

The hardware portion of the deliverable will be a proof of concept device that is able to detect vehicles in different lanes and transmit that information to the algorithm.

We will be presenting the algorithm with simulated traffic inputs along with the proof of concept car detection systems at ImagineRIT.

Customer Requirements

Customer Requirements

Customer Requirements

In order to see the full document, please click here.

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Engineering Requirements Template

Engineering Requirements Template

See the most up-to-date Engineering Requirements here.

Note: The Engineering Requirements will be added to during MSD I while the group decides on what sensor to use and how it will be implemented.


Cost is a large factor in the system that we design. Being limited by $500 means that we need to be careful that we do not buy hardware that far exceeds our needs in order to keep the cost down.

A constraint imposed by the customer is that this technology should stay relevant for at least 10 years. This is to ensure that if some device fails, it can easily be replaced without worrying about obsolete or end-of-life hardware.

The final design must also be weatherproof since it will be outside for long periods of time.

Design Review Materials

Problem Definition Review Slideshow

Link to Notes for Q&A after review here.

Plans for next phase

The following should be decided upon by the next review:

Joe - Joe's 3-week Plan

Bryan - Bryan's 3 Week Plan

Gaitz - Gaitz' 3-week Plan

Samara - Samara's 3-week Plan

Eilif - Eilif's 3 Week Plan

Justin - Justin's 3-week Plan

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