Trafficmodels and general relativity

01 January 2022 → 31 December 2025
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Differential geometry
  • Engineering and technology
    • Operational traffic control and traffic management
    • Modelling and simulation
trafficmodel relativity theory
Project description

Driving used to enable people to travel quickly. However, traffic congestion has become a major problem and it is still getting worse. The last years, the total congestion time increased enormously, e.g. in Flanders on average with 10% annually. People that get stuck in traffic jams lose valuable time, but congestion also increases the fuel consumption, the carbon footprint and it deteriorates the air quality.

While we will not be able to solve all traffic jams, we can try to reduce them as much as possible. In this project we will build a traffic model with an entirely novel approach. Like many traffic simulators, our traffic model will be based on a physics theory. But, unlike the others, we will use the theory of general relativity. We will embed the road network in spacetime such that the shortest route in the model represents the fastest route in the real world.

This traffic model will give an entirely new point-of-view on optimizing traffic flows. With such a theory, two seemingly unconnected fields of research are linked to each other, allowing reuse of already established insights and computational models from relativity theory in traffic science. We expect ground-breaking improvements in traffic science with societal and economic impact as a bonus.