Govciooutlook

Rhythm Engineering: Adaptive Traffic Control for a Connected Future

 Jesse J. Manning, Vice President of Business Development
It was in the early 1900s when Ford’s Model T became affordable for the average American that the automobile industry transformed into a truly consumer-based revolution. Government agencies at the time faced a gauntlet of tasks—roads to accommodate these vehicles, rules and standards that would control their production and usage, and most importantly, signage and signalized infrastructure that would streamline and regularize traffic. Today, a century later, the future beholds connected vehicles—autonomous entities on the road—that communicate with other vehicles and traffic infrastructure. In a bid to help traffic agencies and engineers take a leap forward to a position where they can handle such immense changes, Rhythm Engineering provides innovative and affordable traffic solutions. Their adaptive traffic control signal system, In|Sync, enables traffic signals to immediately adapt to traffic demand.

Traditional first-generation signal control cabinets are based on archaic binary principles that do not adapt to real-time changes in traffic demand caused by geometric constraints and rush hour fluctuations. Even in second generation systems that take in data from video, radar, and induction loop-based detection systems, responsive technologies rely on preprogrammed timing plans and require a certain amount of time to transmit to a central server which makes decisions based on previous cycles and sends out delayed instructions for dealing with current demand. With third-generation, real-time adaptive technologies, “we are able to make mid-cycle or even mid-sequence decisions based on changing patterns emerging in the traffic. We’re actually responding to how traffic demand looks in that second,” says Jesse J. Manning, Vice President of Business Development at Rhythm.

The volume of vehicles waiting in the queue, the time that each has waited, and the priority of redirection are some of the data points that form the baseline for priority decisions made by In|Sync.

We are able to make mid-cycle or even mid-sequence decisions based on changing patterns emerging in the traffic


A separate computer processor installed at the intersection itself functions as an artificially intelligent traffic cop who makes decisions and instructs the existing signal infrastructure based on split-second pattern changes in traffic and geometry. The ability to integrate with existing traffic infrastructure— supplementing the equipment but augmenting their capabilities—puts Rhythm well ahead of other traffic technology vendors in terms of reducing capital expenditure for agencies.

The results are published to traffic agencies via the software, In|Traffic, a web-based intuitive interface that uses a straightforward yet elegant graphical user interface to make the advanced traffic management software easy-to-use for engineers and technicians. In terms of its reporting capabilities, In|Traffic provides visibility into automated traffic signal performance measures that are becoming a norm for traffic agencies in the U.S. as well as other countries. Rather than just reporting the data, In|Sync’s adaptive algorithms respond to data collection 24-hours-a-day, making a series of minute alterations to best serve real-time demand. This capability went the extra mile in solving predicaments that the City of Farmington faced—varying traffic flows, geometries and distances between intersections, and the frustrating inability to time signals in a way that served bi-directional progression. Apart from building priority orders at each intersection, In|Sync offered the city the unique capability to provide an enriched motorist experience along its corridors.

Although Rhythm already addresses multiple use cases in traffic management, Jesse envisions a future with a much bigger calling for the company’s solutions, “as we have more connected vehicles in the future, we can take in signals from those vehicles to serve as a check-and-balance on the present detection methods. Over a period of time, it will be cars themselves reporting their presence rather than inductance loops or cameras.” The roadmap ahead forks bi-directionally for the company. While they would continue striving to achieve enhanced motorist experiences using sophisticated technology, they also want to bring in an element of education to assist traffic engineers navigate the future.