June 14


I met with Eric Gannaway (Rhythm Engineering's Great Lake Region sales manager) this week to talk about their InSync adaptive signal system control.  It turns out our companies are kindred spirits – they offer a full money back guarantee, they're using technology to solve industry problems, and they're rethinking everything from the ground up.  Plus they have the best designed website I've seen in our industry.

Proven Results

In case there was any doubt……  

Dr. Aleksander Stevanovic prepared a study of a 12 intersection corridor in Florida that used Vissim to model optimized Time of Day (TOD) signal plans and then ran Vissim on the same corridor using InSync -  Download Comparative Evaluation of InSync and Time-of-Day Signal Plans.  Here's the first bullet point from the conclusions:

"InSync outperforms TOD
signal timings in terms of traffic efficiency. For this corridor and its
traffic demand, InSync is undoubtedly better than the existing signal timing
plans and the two optimal signal timing plans in terms of overall network
performances (delay, stops, average speed, etc.), corridor travel times,
intersection delays and stops, and main street delays. The only aspect where
InSync is not clearly better than any other TOD signal timing plan is side
street delay, where InSync is neither best nor worst performing of the
evaluated regimes."  

And here are other documented results from Rhythm's website:


The Future of Signal Control

Their system can work with any kind of detection and you don't need to update signal timing plans.  For $25,000 you get the video cameras for detection and InSync computer to run the system at an intersection. Eric told me they have a prototype of their own controller and plan to be selling it by the end of the year.  

Rhythm's controller will be the size of a romance novel and will be radically cheaper than current controllers.  We'd be able to greatly shrink the size of the cabinet (controller cabinets look like something you'd see at a NASA museum representing 1970's technology).

I'm clearly a fan of where this is headed.  Greatly improved performance.  Automated.  Cheaper.  I'm disappointed no agencies in Minnesota have installed the InSync system yet to test it out.

One more quick thought on signal design – in Minnesota we run a lot of individual cables to each mast arm and still have over-sized wire gauges based on the power draw from incandescent light bulbs.  Going with video gets rid of a lot of cables for loop detectors.  With LEDs, we could go to #14 conductors or even smaller (I'm not an electrical engineer).  

Could we run a single cable with 40 or 50 small gauge wires to each pole?  Think of how efficient/cheap/better it would be to design and build a traffic signal if we had an InSync style system with a single cable running to each pole.

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Mike Spack

My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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