A simulation-based traffic signal control for congested urban traffic networks

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Traffic congestion in urban networks may lead to strong degradation in the utilization of the network infrastructure, which can be mitigated via suitable control strategies. This paper studies and analyzes the performance of an adaptive traffic-responsive strategy that controls the traffic light parameters in an urban network to reduce traffic congestion. A nearly optimal control formulation is adopted to avoid the curse of dimensionality occurring in the solution of the corresponding Hamilton–Jacobi–Bellman (HJB) optimal control problem. First, an (approximate) solution of the HJB is parametrized via an appropriate Lyapunov function; then, the solution is updated at each iteration in such a way to approach the nearly optimal solution, using a close-to-optimality index and information coming from the simulation model of the network (simulation-based design). Simulation results obtained using a traffic simulation model of the network Chania, Greece, an urban traffic network containing many varieties of junction staging, demonstrate the efficiency of the proposed approach, as compared with alternative traffic strategies based on a simplified linear model of the traffic network. It is shown that the proposed strategy can adapt to different traffic conditions and that low-complexity parametrizations of the optimal solution, a linear and a bimodal piecewise linear strategy, respectively, provide a satisfactory trade-off between computational complexity and network performance.