Validation of an extended discrete first-order model with variable speed limits

Yu Han*, Andreas Hegyi, Yufei Yuan, Serge Hoogendoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This paper validates the prediction model embedded in a model predictive controller (MPC) of variable speed limits (VSLs). The MPC controller was designed based on an extended discrete first-order model with a triangular fundamental diagram. In our previous work, the extended discrete first-order model was designed to reproduce the capacity drop and the propagation of jam waves, and it was validated with reasonable accuracy without the presence of VSLs. As VSLs influence traffic dynamics, the dynamics including VSLs needs to be validated, before it can be applied as a prediction model in MPC. For conceptual illustrations, we use two synthetic examples to show how the model reproduces the key mechanisms of VSLs that are applied by existing VSL control approaches. Furthermore, the model is calibrated by use of real traffic data from Dutch freeway A12, where the field test of a speed limit control algorithm (SPECIALIST) was conducted. In the calibration, the original model is extended by using a quadrangular fundamental diagram which keeps the linear feature of the model and represents traffic states at the under-critical branch more accurately. The resulting model is validated using various traffic data sets. The accuracy of the model is compared with a second-order traffic flow model. The performance of two models is comparable: both models reproduce accurate results matching with real data. Flow errors of the calibration and validation are around 10%. The extended discrete first-order model-based MPC controller has been demonstrated to resolve freeway jam waves efficiently by synthetic cases. It has a higher computation speed comparing to the second-order model-based MPC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Discrete first-order model
  • Model calibration and validation
  • Variable speed limits


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