On any given day, thousands of people walk past a traffic light next to the Gonda Neuroscience and Genetics Research Center. But some mornings, that traffic light is surrounded by a web of wires, computers and people.
This intersection isn’t just any intersection – it’s the UCLA Smart Intersection – and the people there are members of the UCLA Mobility Lab.
The lab works with UCLA Transportation to reduce traffic and increase safety throughout Westwood, said Jiaqi Ma, the lab’s director and an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. Zhaoliang Zheng, a doctoral student in the lab, said the team uses both virtual simulations and hardware to analyze the flow of vehicles and pedestrians – making the lab one of the first in the field to combine virtual and physical data in this way.
Zheng said one of the challenges of the lab’s work is a lack of precedent when it comes to real-life experiments on road traffic.