Vignesh Pandian, Research Assistant

How do you create intelligent pedestrian signals with a smartphone app and P2I communication?




Giving pedestrians a greater stand in traffic – that was the objective of my master thesis in Infrastructure Planning at Stuttgart University. Before coming to Germany, I worked as an Engineer in India and have thus knowledge of both sides: the planning and the execution of infrastructure projects.
Pedestrians first – traffic signals optimised for persons, not cars
In most cities of the world, motor vehicles are dominating traffic. This can be best seen at intersections with traffic signals. Very often, the control logic is set to improve traffic flow of the motorized vehicles – and not of the pedestrians. That is where my research comes in. I wanted to find a way to prioritize pedestrians, to reduce their waiting time at signals and, as a positive side effect, to make walking in cities more attractive. The idea was to transfer the concept of V2I to P2I communication, thus to create a way for pedestrians to “talk” to the infrastructure.

“In my master thesis, I found a way to reduce waiting times for pedestrians at traffic signals and to make walking in cities more attractive – by transferring the concept of Vehicle2Infrastructure to Pedestrian2Infrastructure communication.”


“Hello traffic light: I’ll be there in 1 minute!”
In my thesis I examined a scenario where pedestrians would define their intended route using a smartphone app. From this route and from the current GPS position, the app would know two things:
1. A pedestrian is approaching a traffic signal
2. Whether a pedestrian intends to cross the street or not


If the pedestrian intends to cross the street, the app sends this information to the signal controller. The control logic of the signal can then consider the request and integrate it into the signal plan. I modelled the functionality of the smartphone app using microscopic modelling software PTV Vissim & Viswalk 11.
I chose two locations in Karlsruhe, Germany, for developing a traffic flow simulation with respect to the pedestrian behaviour:
Location 1:  The smartphone app assists the pedestrians to take the route, which has the least waiting time at the signal.
Location 2: The app sends information to the traffic signal controller, and then the request is integrated into the signal plan.
More about Vignesh:
At the start of his thesis, Vignesh had this great idea about intelligent pedestrian lights and a smartphone app. But he was sceptical on how to put it into practice, since he was no app developer and didn’t have the resources to actually modify traffic signals at an intersection. He started to look into microsimulation and discovered a cheap and reliable way to evaluate the impacts of different scenarios. Working with PTV Vissim for months, he became a fan of the various possibilities to easily model and visualise pedestrians, traffic signals, vehicles and intersections. However, if he could wish for one thing to be improved, it would be a new interface in PTV Vissim to calculate the intergreen times, because then he and other traffic engineers would no longer have to rely on additional software such as Lisa+.
You want to get to know Vignesh? Connect with him on LinkedIn.
Get to know the PTV Expert:
Tobias Kretz, Vignesh’s Thesis Supervisor and Chief Product Manager PTV Viswalk at PTV Group
There were two motivations to do this work, one “soft”, the other technical. The former is about awareness. People generally like latest technology. With all the excitement about digitization of the car I feared that pedestrians might get a bit out of view, just because there is no dedicated technology for them. But in fact, with the smartphone there is, which offers a chance to put walking back on the same table as CAV. The technical motivation was to try the new formula route decisions which we developed at the time of Vignesh’s thesis and which were released with Vissim and Viswalk 11. Vignesh was their first user and tester.
Interested? Then see the webinar recording on the new features of Vissim and Viswalk 11 (find formula routes at 14:43). And If you want to learn more about this or other features, why don’t you join our User Forum on LinkedIn to connect with experts from PTV and researchers and practitioners from all over the world.

Discover other heroes championing Sustanability: