A generic data assimilation framework for vehicle trajectory reconstruction on signalized urban arterials using particle filters

Xu Xie*, Hans van Lint, Alexander Verbraeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
94 Downloads (Pure)


With trajectory data, a complete microscopic and macroscopic picture of traffic flow operations can be obtained. However, trajectory data are difficult to observe over large spatiotemporal regions—particularly in urban contexts—due to practical, technical and financial constraints. The next best thing is to estimate plausible trajectories from whatever data are available. This paper presents a generic data assimilation framework to reconstruct such plausible trajectories on signalized urban arterials using microscopic traffic flow models and data from loops (individual vehicle passages and thus vehicle counts); traffic control data; and (sparse) travel time measurements from whatever source available. The key problem we address is that loops suffer from miss- and over-counts, which result in unbounded errors in vehicle accumulations, rendering trajectory reconstruction highly problematic. Our framework solves this problem in two ways. First, we correct the systematic error in vehicle accumulation by fusing the counts with sparsely available travel times. Second, the proposed framework uses particle filtering and an innovative hierarchical resampling scheme, which effectively integrates over the remaining error distribution, resulting in plausible trajectories. The proposed data assimilation framework is tested and validated using simulated data. Experiments and an extensive sensitivity analysis show that the proposed method is robust to errors both in the model and in the measurements, and provides good estimations for vehicle accumulation and vehicle trajectories with moderate sensor quality. The framework does not impose restrictions on the type of microscopic models used and can be naturally extended to include and estimate additional trajectory attributes such as destination and path, given data are available for assimilation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-391
Number of pages28
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Data assimilation
  • Microscopic traffic simulation
  • Noisy sensor data
  • Particle filters
  • Vehicle accumulation estimation
  • Vehicle trajectory reconstruction


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