Press Office


SatNav to ease congestion in our cities


New sat-nav technology which helps drivers adjust their speed so they can pass through a series of lights on green is to be trialled in Newcastle.

The 10m Euro Compass4D project has been designed to take the frustration out of the rush-hour commute.

Led in the UK by Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council, the system is being developed to reduce city centre congestion and pollution associated with stop-start driving.

Phil Blythe, Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems at Newcastle University, explains: “Traffic management systems are already in place across the city to improve traffic flow but what’s unique about this trial is that we will be giving information directly to the driver.

“For example, the system might advise a driver that if they travel at 24 miles an hour they will hit the next four sets of traffic lights on green.  In more congested areas or particularly busy times of the day, then key roads might be given priority in order to keep the traffic flowing.”

The new project will link an in-vehicle communication system directly with the city’s Urban Traffic Management Control (UTMC) centre, helping motorists to drive more efficiently to keep our cities’ traffic moving.

Information will be sent directly to drivers to take them away from areas that are becoming congested, speeding up people’s journeys through the city and easing overall congestion.  At the same time, drivers will be warned of approaching danger such as an accident or reckless driver.

Among the systems being implemented by the team are:

• A Forward Collision Warning, which notifies drivers of obstacles on the road such as an accident, broken down vehicle or even just stationary traffic

• A Red Light Violation Warning, which tells drivers when someone on the road ahead has jumped a red light

• And an Energy Efficient Intersection service, which advises the driver of the best speed in order to pass through a series of traffic lights on green.

The Newcastle pilot is part of a 10M EURO project called Compass4D involving seven European cities - Bordeaux, France; Copenhagen, Denmark; Eindhoven-Helmond, Netherlands; Thessoloniki, Greece; Verona, Italy; Vigo, Spain, and Newcastle, UK.  Other key partners include Siemens and Volvo and the project is co-ordinated by the European Road Transport Telematics Implementation Coordination Organisation (ERTICO).

UK project lead Dr Yvonne Huebner, from Newcastle University, explains: “Newcastle is already leading the way in intelligent transport systems and this work will allow us to build on the infrastructure that is already in place to provide personalised information to drivers.

“Every year there are more cars on the road and although there are initiatives in place to keep our cities moving congestion is still a major problem.

“And it’s not just car drivers.  By creating a joined up information system for all road users we can give other users such as the emergency services and bus drivers information which can help them get to their destination quickly and safely.”

Cllr Nigel Todd, deputy cabinet member for environment and transport at Newcastle City Council, said:  “Newcastle City Council supports co-operation with European partners as a means of learning from one another to address our common challenges.

“By being outward facing, the free flow of ideas and experiences can help all cities meet their goals for a cleaner environment.  In particular, Compass 4D builds on our strong track record in Intelligent Transport Solutions, benefiting from our close links with the University of Newcastle.

“As partners, we will actively support Compass4D as we share its vision towards developing sustainable transport solutions, safety and environmental care.”

Professor Blythe adds: “This project builds on many other world-leading research projects that the University has led over the years - bringing state of the art traffic management to Newcastle.

“The in-vehicle unit will communicate with the smart traffic lights controlled by the city’s UTMC.  This will be the first trial of its kind in the UK, putting the City at the forefront of new and innovative thinking as to how emerging technologies can help us better manage our increasingly congested roads in the future.”

published on: 14 February 2013