Concept

Floating car data

Summary
Floating car data (FCD) in traffic engineering and management is typically timestamped geo-localization and speed data directly collected by moving vehicles, in contrast to traditional traffic data collected at a fixed location by a stationary device or observer. In a physical interpretation context, FCD provides a Lagrangian description of the vehicle movements whereas stationary devices provide an Eulerian description. The participating vehicle acts itself consequently as a moving sensor using an onboard GPS receiver or cellular phone. The most common and widespread use of FCD is to determine the traffic speed on the road network. Based on these data, traffic congestion can be identified, travel times can be calculated, and traffic reports can be rapidly generated. In contrast to stationary devices such as traffic cameras, number plate recognition systems, and induction loops embedded in the roadway, no additional hardware on the road network is necessary. Floating cellular data is one of the methods to collect floating car data. This method uses cellular network data (CDMA, GSM, UMTS, GPRS). No special devices/hardware are necessary: every switched-on mobile phone becomes a traffic probe and is as such an anonymous source of information. The location of the mobile phone is determined using (1) triangulation or (2) the hand-over data stored by the network operator. As GSM localisation is less accurate than GPS based systems, many phones must be tracked and complex algorithms used to extract high-quality data. For example, care must be taken not to misinterpret cellular phones on a high speed railway track near the road as incredibly fast journeys along the road. However, the more congestion, the more cars, the more phones and thus more probes. In metropolitan areas where traffic data are most needed the distance between cell sites is lower and thus precision increases. Advantages over GPS-based or conventional methods such as cameras or street embedded sensors include: No infrastructure or hardware in cars or along the road.
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