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Smart motorways in 2015 and how the M100 is transforming MIDAS

January 15th

As leading providers of active traffic management systems, traffic data solutions and traffic data collection products, we came across an interesting article on a new smart motorway project on the M4 recently,which is worth highlighting alongside our innovative M100 product.

Our highways are becoming more and more smart, as options to increase capacity in a cost effective way with less impact on the environment increase in popularity.

Smart Highways in the UK have evolved out of the initial Active Traffic Management trial on the M42 where the hard shoulder running would be deployed at times of congestion between junctions.

This required a large of amount of infrastructure with closely spaced signalling gantries and message signs and the installation of regular Emergency Refuge Areas.

This trial was considered a success both in reducing congestion, increasing the predictability of journey times and also the public perceptions of the Emergency Refuge Areas was very positive.

Following this trial, the system with slight modifications has been rolled out at a number of locations such as the M6, now called Managed Motorways.

A further development called Smart Motorways – where the hard shoulder now becomes a permanent running lane – is now being introduced on sections of the network such as the M1 and M25.

MIDAS (which stands for Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling) was first deployed on the M25 in 1997 in conjunction at the time with Golden Rover River Traffic and is now covering nearly two thirds of the motorway network.

MIDAS utilises detection locations every 500m on the network to calculate volume, speed, and occupancy of each lane – and can therefore create alerts, using HiOcc and specialist HiOcc2 algorithms that calculate road occupancy levels to determine alerts with respect to when there is congestion and queuing traffic, to automatically set speed message signs downstream of the incident.

Traditionally, this detection is achieved via the use of two inductive loops in each lane connected to a MIDAS outstation at every location.

It is possible to reduce the costs associated with such installation by the use of the M100 wireless magnetometer system,which has now been approved to the Highways Agency standard MCH1529.

Maintenance and traffic management costs are reduced, as should a loop fail (in, for example, the outside lane) its replacement would need all lanes to be closed to enable the tail to be replaced all the way back to the roadside MIDAS outstation.

This need is eliminated with the wireless M100 system.

As the data is transmitted wirelessly, further infrastructure costs can be reduced by enabling one cabinet to house outstations for an increased number of detection locations.

In addition to replacing the inductive loop within the surface of the road, the M100 sensor can be mounted under some types of elevated sections such as on the M5 near Birmingham.

Installing inductive loops on elevated sections is often complicated due to the thinner wearing courses with water proof membranes underneath that can be susceptible to damage during slot cutting.

Ramp Metering utilises a mix of multiple slip road vehicle detectors and MIDAS information on the main carriageway linked to traffic signals at the end the slip to regulate traffic flow onto the motorway at peak times to improve traffic flows.

The M100 Wireless detection can be utilised for either the slip road detection or the MIDAS Detection, or both, allowing a reduction in costs for the installation of the system at a junction.

To find out more about how our M100 product can be used to transform MIDAS, check out this additional information on the system?s approval.

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