Stellenbosch: How one student could solve traffic congestion

Wilko Mohr, a master’s degree student, is set to revolutionise Stellenbosch’s intersections. 

The R44 flows through the heart of Stellenbosch, and the intersections are a nightmare on good days. But not if Mohr can help.

He is in the process of developing a custom-made and sophisticated computerised control system that collects real-time data which will use cameras to synch traffic signals.

Johann Andersen from the Department of Civil Engineering explained that the data would be collected by the cameras and “existing electromagnetic loops beneath the road surface.” Wilko with then refine the algorithm from the data collected which will automatically adjust the traffic signals “to get the traffic moving optimally.”

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In its initial phase, set to roll out in 2019, the system will only be implemented at eight busy intersections along the R44 – starting at Masitandane Rd past Bird Street and all the way down to Dorp Street, Doornbosch Street and Van Reede Rd.

Two additional intersections and pedestrian crossings will be added at a later stage with the long-term goal being to incorporate the system and collect data from all traffic points across Stellenbosh.

Mohr is currently studying with a bursary funded by the Stellenbosch Municipality, with Director of Infrastructure Services, Mr Deon Louw, looking forward to the roll-out phase.

Earlier this month, he said at the Rector-Mayor Forum meeting:

“Traffic congestion has become a major problem for us. We are working on various solutions and are fortunate to have the University on our doorstep. In essence, we would like to provide a ‘living laboratory’, where researchers can come up with solutions to the challenges of our town and surrounds.”

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With this project, Mohr will get the opportunity to solve real-life challenges while preparing himself for the working world and all the while making a positive impact by solving Stellenbosch’s traffic dilemma. He is looking forward to working on the project and added:

“With a problem such as traffic congestion, a ‘hard engineering’ solution would be to build more roads, but ‘soft engineering’ could potentially have the same impact, only much faster and more affordable. Real-time traffic adaptive signal control holds significant potential for developing countries.”

by Cheryl Kahla