"COMFORT" is an Associate Team between INRIA project-team NeCS and the Berkeley University project PATH, funded from 2014 to 2016.

Nature and history of the collaboration

The NeCS research team, headed by Professor Canudas-de-Wit at INRIA, has been working on innovative prediction and decentralized control algorithms for freeway traffic flow models. The team is now finalizing the realization of the "Grenoble Traffic Laboratory" (GTL) that aims to monitor the Grenoble beltway in order to confront state-of-the-art of intelligent transportation systems to real traffic operation.

Simultaneously, Professor R. Horowitz, who is also co-Director of the PATH (Partners for Advanced Transportation TecHnology) Program at Berkeley, is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the PATH Tools for Operations Planning (TOPL) project, which has been supported by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for over 5 years. The goal of TOPL is to provide tools that specify actions for traffic corridor operational improvements (ramp metering, incident management, and demand management) and to quickly estimate the benefits of such actions. TOPL is based on macro-simulation models that are automatically calibrated using traffic data. Horowitz is also co-PI of the Connected Corridors PATH program, a collaborative effort to research, develop, and test a framework for future corridor traffic operations in California and beyond. As part of this effort, Horowitz' research team is extending many of the tools in the TOPL project to be used as part of a Decision Support System that will provide short-term traffic flow predictions, based on current conditions, and use these predictions to evaluate possible traffic management strategies that reduce congestion in a traffic corridors.

These two teams have a long history of successful collaboration and have been involved in several joint publications in the area of transportation and vehicle control. In 2002, two PhD students from the Grenoble team visited the team of Prof. Horowitz. The first of the two graduate student visitors, Xavier Clayes, spent six months at Berkeley and worked on platooning control. The second, Denis Jacquet, spent 6 months as a visiting researcher at Berkeley. This visit launched collaboration with Sensys Networks, a company that produces wireless sensors used for traffic measurement. Upon his return to France, Dr. Jacquet, founded Karrus-ITS, an INRIA start-up, in 2010.

The two teams have complementary strengths and research goals. Both teams have a strong background in control theory and its application to traffic. They are interested and have made significant contributions to traffic forecasting and control problems using macroscopic dynamical traffic models. In addition, both teams have built technological platforms for gathering and processing real-time traffic data. These platforms allow students and researchers to assess the performance of their algorithms with real-time data, and at scales ranging from single sensors to entire cities.