Throughout the world, travel has been increasing rapidly over recent decades and transport related problems are getting worse. For example, congestion now plagues cities in virtually all countries regardless of the level of economic and technological development.

This has resulted in high levels of environmental pollution (air and noise) and increased the risk of accidents. These problems are particularly acute in urban areas. Conventional approaches have not been able to fully address these issues. Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), considered one of the greatest innovations have the potential to contribute to the alleviation of these problems by ensuring better utilisation of the existing infrastructure without compromising safety, the environment and the economy.

Furthermore, the systems should also be able to provide accurate and reliable data for planning and maintenance purposes, and generate a large number of value added applications. ITS utilises state-of-the art communications, data capture, computing, navigation and electronic control technologies.

Our research in ITS, while addressing fundamental research barriers to effective spatio-temporal referencing of relevant transport data, also takes a 'system' level approach including research on sensor development, communications and systems integration.

Our research is underpinned by state-of-the art platforms (including for simulations, sensor testing and system's integration) and an instrumented vehicle. We also have a number of state-of-the art Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software and commercial-off-the shelf integrated GPS/Dead Reckoning sensors, Wireless Local Area Network Positioning (WLAN) sensors and a fully integrated in-house low-cost onboard Vehicle Performance and Emissions Monitoring System (VPEMS).

Research theme leader

Curent research projects

Network of Sensors at Heathrow Project

The scientific objective of this project is to demonstrate the potential of low cost sensor network systems for characterising air quality in the urban environment at an appropriate granularity in order to understand the factors which influence pollutant concentrations on local scales. The ultimate aim is to develop and demonstrate the sensor network system methodology which, when appropriately deployed, can contribute to scientific, economic, public policy and regulatory issues, crossing climate change, human (health) responses, as well as air quality on local and regional scales. The intention of this application is both to demonstrate a generic capability, with wide potential applicability, and to address a number of specific scientific issues, and ultimately legislative issues, relevant to London Heathrow Airport. To achieve this, a high-density air quality sensor network system will be deployed in and around London Heathrow Airport for an extended period. This will use state of the art low cost sensors for selected gases and aerosols, providing an unprecedented data-set for a range of activities and outcomes.

Sponsor: NERC

Completed research projects

Projects completed in 2010-2012

1. A LAAS to Galileo for Fleet Management

In a consultancy work done for Logica, the sufficiency of stand-alone GNSS navigation for Fleet Management is assessed. Several possible augmentation systems are considered to have better positioning accuracy, integrity and availability in urban areas.

Sponsor: LogicaCMG

2. Local area augmentation system for fleet management

This project was funded by LogicaCMG to specify an architecture for a local area navigation system for fleet management in urban areas. The architecture proposed consisted of the use of Medium Frequency (MF) signals generated from terrestrial MF signal generators (similar to those used for LORAN-C) to augment the signals from the space based navigation systems such as GPS, GLONASS and GALILEO.

Sponsor: LogicaCMG

3. Earthquake risk assessment using remote sensing

A consortium of Imperial College and European industry was awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) under the Long Term Development of Earth Observation Market initiative to develop and validate the technique of Permanent Scatterer Interforemetry Synthetic Aperture Radar (PSInSAR) for the purpose of deriving high precision maps of ground displacements over time. Imperial's expertise in high precision positioning with GPS enabled the project team to validate the PSInSAR method for the measurement of ground displacement over time.

Sponsor: ESA

4. The development and demonstration of a vehicle performance and emissions monitoring system

This a Foresight Vehicle LINK project was awarded to a consortium including Imperial College, Sira Technologies Ltd and Saturn Technologies Ltd, to develop a real-time vehicle performance and emission monitoring system (VPEMS). The research project has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of near-real time sampling of spatio-temporally referenced driver/vehicle performance and pollutant data. There will be many benefits associated with the development of the VPEMS. Accurate and reliable data on the environmental impact of surface transport will be captured and managed at a central location. Researchers will use the data to develop tools for planning and policy making. Policy makers (central and local authorities) will use the data and tools to formulate strategies for tackling environmental problems. The Health Service providers (public and private) will use the data to target resources to the areas most in need. Vehicle manufacturers will use the data to develop cleaner and more efficient vehicles. Fleet managers will use the data to optimise the use of their fleet. VPEMS technology will contribute to a more sustainable transport system.

Sponsor: The Department for Trade and Industry (DTI); EPSRC; Sira Limited; Saturn Technologies Limited

5. Space-based dynamic positioning in built-up environments

This research project was funded by Transport for London (TfL) to contribute to the review of the Countdown Bus Information System operated. The project assessed the capability of stand-alone and augmented navigation space-based systems to support the navigation functionality of the Countdown system. Currently, the system uses roadside beacons and distance information from odometer to determine the location of buses. Research is continuing to investigate data fusion techniques involving the integration of GNSS with low-cost MEMS technology sensors to enable required navigation performance in built-up areas.

Sponsor: Eurocontrol; DERA (Qinetiq)

Projects completed in 2007-2009

1. Measures of road traffic congestion

This project was awarded by the Department for Transport to Mouchel Consulting and Imperial College, to explore the extent to which existing data sources could be used to improve on the methods for measuring traffic congestion. The project was divided into two phases, one to survey existing data sources and the other to investigate how the data could be used to provide a reliable and relevant measure or measures of traffic congestion. The various data sources were assessed in terms of coverage (spatial and temporal) and quality. The study concluded that an accurate and continuous measurement of congestion required the combined usage of global navigation satellite system data and terrestrial sensor data. The algorithms for the integration of the data sources would have to take into account the differences including data quality.

Sponsor: The Department for Transport

2. GPS performance characterisation in Greater London

The provision of accurate and reliable real time information on bus services is an important element in persuading travellers to switch from private to public transport. A number of such systems are either being or have been implemented. An example is the Countdown system owned and operated by Transport for London (TfL). The Countdown system relies on beacon based Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology to support its positioning function. Currently 4766 microwave beacons have been installed across London. The beacons are installed at the roadside, mainly on lamp posts. A part from potential technical performance limitations, the management (and associated costs) of such a large number of microwave beacons is a potential cause for concern. The advent of the GPS has provided an alternative to terrestrial based positioning systems such as the one used to support the Countdown system. The objective of this project was to characterise the performance of GPS in the Greater London area to enable TfL to make an informed decision on whether GPS is a viable alternative technology to microwave beacons.

Sponsor: Transport for London

3. Real world urban particulate emissions from a light duty vehicle

This research seeks to investigate the influence of driver behaviour on the emission of particulate matter (PM) from a light duty vehicle operating in an urban environment, where exposure to these harmful pollutants is highest. Recent advances in on-board vehicle emissions monitoring technologies will be combined with detailed chassis dynamometer experiments to investigate how ultrafine particle emissions correlate with various driving modes. This will involve the development, testing and validation of a vehicle activity based emissions model compatible with existing environmental modelling techniques.

Sponsor: EPSRC

4. Reliable map-matching algorithms for land transport applications

A range of transport telematics applications and services require continuous and accurate positioning information of the vehicles travelling on the road network. Two types of information are essential for such telematics applications and services. These are the determination of the vehicle position and the determination of the physical location of the vehicle on the road network. The most common devices used for vehicle positioning are based on GPS, Dead-Reckoning (DR) sensors, Map Matching (MM) and microwave beacons. The use of these devices either in isolation or combination depends on the Required Navigation Performance (RNP) parameter specifications (accuracy, integrity, continuity and availability). Furthermore, the capability to identify the physical location of a vehicle is a key requirement in transport telematics applications. In order to achieve the RNP, system and sensor complementarity, such as in the case of the integration of GPS, DR and digital map data could be used to enhance geometric positioning capability. MM not only enables the physical location of the vehicle to be identified but also improves the positioning capability if a good digital map is available. This research is developing novel map-matching algorithms that exploit all available information (quantitative and qualitative). Fuzzy logic techniques are used to address some of the vague qualitative information available.

Sponsor: Imperial College London

5. Free Network Mobile People and Product Location for Enhanced Personal and Property Security

The aim of this project is to develop a low-cost system capable of providing continuous tracking of people and property in all environments. The key objective will be to develop a system to locate ad-hoc networks of mobile users and equipment using current or near future wireless radio enabled equipment. The 'nodes' of the network could be people with suitably equipped mobile phones (or simple tags) or equipment (such as PCs, printers, etc.) with wireless radio connections. The location network should expand and contract 'organically' so that no central control points are required. In this way 'bottle-necks' in the system will be avoided when there are many users and location can be performed very quickly. The research is being carried out by Imperial and University of Leeds in collaboration with New Forrest Communications Limited, the Police Scientific Development Branch and the Forensic Science Services.

Sponsor: EPSRC; Police Scientific Development Branch (PSDB); Forensic Science Services (FSS); New Forest Communications Limited

Projects completed prior to 2007

1. Optimising Map-Matching algorithms for the Tracking and Navigation of Criminals

This research proposes to investigate ways of optimising current Map-Matching algorithms like Geometric Point-to-Point and Geometric Curve-to-Curve for the application of tracking and navigation of criminals. Being able to achieve a high degree of accuracy in vehicle positioning is critical in determining criminal movement and activity for the UK Police Force. Map-Matching algorithms are one of the common devices used for vehicle positioning and the determination of the physical location of the vehicle on the road network. Current research in Map-Matching suggests that there are major limitations in evaluating results from such algorithms and more focus needs to be concentrated towards integrity issues such as quality checks and metrics which should in theory lead to greater levels of confidence in a map-matched position. Also, the application of Fuzzy Logic techniques for Map-Matching will need to be investigated further, which aims to place qualitative information into a quantitative context. This research is being carried out by Imperial College.

Sponsor: Police Information Technology Organisation

2. Mobile Environmental Sensing System Across Grid Environments (MESSAGE)

MESSAGE is a three-year research project which started in October 2006 to demonstrate the application of e-Science technologies to the development of a mobile environmental sensing network for Transport and environmental applications. The Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial is leading a consortium of five universities (also including Newcastle, Cambridge, Southampton and Leeds) in this multidisciplinary research that consists of developments in wireless communications, positioning, computer science and atmospheric physics. The project is funded jointly by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Department for Transport. The project also has the support of nineteen non-academic organisations from public sector transport operations, commercial equipment providers, systems integrators and technology suppliers.

Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for Transport (DfT)

3. Enhanced Precise Point Positioning

Location-awareness is considered one of the most important parameters within current and near future wireless networks. This is due to the emergence of a wide variety of location-based applications such as people and asset tracking, intruder detection and prevention, and spatial referencing for data collected in mobile wireless sensor networks. The use of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), such GPS, to support these applications is limited by their degraded performance in terms of accuracy, integrity, continuity and availability in indoor and dense urban areas. This is due to signal attenuation and blockage. Although research is ongoing to ‘bring GPS indoors’, achieving real time high accuracy remains a challenge. On the other hand, the use of stand-alone positioning systems such as the ultrasound-based Cricket and Active bat and Ultra Wideband (UWB)-based Ubisense, is limited due to their relatively small coverage areas and high cost. This project aims at developing a cost effective positioning system based on Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN) communication to provide high performance in terms of accuracy, integrity, continuity and availability in indoor and dense urban areas. The motivation for using WLAN is based on their low cost and wide deployment within indoor and dense urban areas. The new positioning system is expected to operate automatically using normal wireless connections (with minimal modification) and with a minimal cost impact both on the support infrastructure and the intended applications. The research leading to the realisation of the new positioning technique will consists of five parts: the determination of the system requirements, development of a novel WLAN ranging system component, development of a network positioning technique (based on the WLAN ranges), system demonstration based on simulation and the realisation of a system prototype (in the laboratory and in the field).

Sponsor: EPSRC and UK Industry

4. CVIS (Corporative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems)

The CVIS (Corporative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems) Project is a large-scale automotive electronics and intelligent transport systems project commissioned by the European Union. The CVIS consortium consists of 60 partners including top vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, research institutes and national road administrators from 12 European Union member states. One of the objectives is to create a unified technical solution allowing all vehicles and infrastructure elements to communicate with each other in a continuous and transparent way using a variety of media; and to define and validate an open architecture and system concept for a number of cooperative system applications. The key research activities aim to develop core components to support cooperation models in real-life applications to service drivers, operators, industry and other key stakeholders. Currently 6 CVIS test sites are in operation to provide data for system validation: France (Lyon and Versailles), Germany (Dortmund and Hessen), Italy (Turin, Florence and Bologna), The Netherlands & Belgium (Rotterdam, Antwerp, Barbant and Helmond), Sweden (Gothenburg) and UK (London). Imperial is working with TfL (Transport for London) to evaluate the use of the CVIS platform at the UK Test site. Here, the Urban Parking Zones application is deployed for the management of freight loading bays on mixed-use urban streets with participating fleet operators. Imperial are leading the validation process. This includes a technical validation of the system performance, and an impact evaluation with respect to the potential impacts of this CVIS application on safety, environment, efficiency and economic viability. CVIS project website:

Sponsor: European Commission

5. GAARDIAN (GNSS Availability, Accuracy, Reliability anD Integrity Assessment for Timing and Navigation)

The GAARDIAN project will create a mesh of remote Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Interference Detection and Mitigation (IDM) sensors. These sensors will be deployed in mission critical environments and in the vicinity of PNT dependent infrastructure and applications. Specifically, they will monitor the Required Navigation Performance (RNP) parameters (i.e. accuracy, integrity, continuity and availability) of the locally received GPS (or other GNSS) and eLoran signals on a 24x7 basis and report back to a central server. The user will be alerted in near real-time to any anomalous behaviour in either of the two PNT signals. The IDM sensors will be configurable according to the user requirements. The users will access the data over the internet from a secure server environment, thus enabling continuous monitoring from any internet enabled terminal. Likely phenomena or threats to PNT services include jamming, general interference, multipath from local reflections, space environment or weather related events and satellite or transmitter malfunction. Traditionally, it has been very difficult to analyse the specific nature of interference to a PNT signal, when monitoring one signal alone, e.g. GPS. By using the technically dissimilar eLoran signal plus a terrestrial timing reference, and continually analysing key data, the RNP parameters associated with either signal can be recorded with high confidence. Likely applications will include homeland security, transport users such as harbours, airports, roads and railways, emergency services, military, utilities, scientific community, telecom infrastructure and any safety or mission critical application leveraging PNT signals.

Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)