Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

Committee Director

Stephan Olariu

Committee Member

Hussien Abdel-Wahab

Committee Member

Ravi Mukkamala

Committee Member

Michele C. Weigle

Committee Member

Mecit Cetin


The US Department of Transportation (US-DOT) estimates that over half of all congestion events are caused by highway incidents rather than by rush-hour traffic in big cities. The US-DOT also notes that in a single year, congested highways due to traffic incidents cost over $75 billion in lost worker productivity and over 8.4 billion gallons of fuel. Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that congested roads are one of the leading causes of traffic accidents, and in 2005 an average of 119 persons died each day in motor vehicle accidents.

Recently, Vehicular Ad-hoc Networks (VANET) employing a combination of Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) wireless communication have been proposed to alert drivers to traffic events including accidents, lane closures, slowdowns, and other traffic-safety issues.

In this thesis, we propose a novel framework for incident detection and notification dissemination in VANETs. This framework consists of three main components: a system architecture, a traffic incident detection engine and a notification dissemination mechanism. The basic idea of our framework is to collect and aggregate traffic-related data from passing cars and to use the aggregated information to detect traffic anomalies. Finally, the suitably filtered aggregated information is disseminated to alert drivers about traffic delays and incidents.

The first contribution of this thesis is an architecture for the notification of traffic incidents, NOTICE for short. In NOTICE, sensor belts are embedded in the road at regular intervals, every mile or so. Each belt consists of a collection of pressure sensors, a simple aggregation and fusion engine, and a few small transceivers. The pressure sensors in each belt allow every message to be associated with a physical vehicle passing over that belt. Thus, no one vehicle can pretend to be multiple vehicles and then, is no need for an ID to be assigned to vehicles.

Vehicles in NOTICE are fitted with a tamper-resistant Event Data Recorder (EDR), very much like the well-known black-boxes onboard commercial aircraft. EDRs are responsible for storing vehicles behavior between belts such as acceleration, deceleration and lane changes. Importantly, drivers can provide input to the EDR, using a simple menu, either through a dashboard console or through verbal input.

The second contribution of this thesis is to develop incident detection techniques that use the information provided by cars in detecting possible incidents and traffic anomalies using intelligent inference techniques. For this purpose, we developed deterministic and probabilistic techniques to detect both blocking incidents, accidents for examples, as well as non-blocking ones such as potholes. To the best of our knowledge, our probabilistic technique is the first VANET based automatic incident detection technique that is capable of detecting both blocking and non blocking incidents.

Our third contribution is to provide an analysis for vehicular traffic proving that VANETs tend to be disconnected in many highway scenarios, consisting of a collection of disjoint clusters. We also provide an analytical way to compute the expected cluster size and we show that clusters are quite stable over time. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first in the VANET community to prove analytically that disconnection is the norm rather than the exceptions in VANETs.

Our fourth contribution is to develop data dissemination techniques specifically adapted to VANETs. With VANETs disconnection in mind, we developed data dissemination approaches that efficiently propagate messages between cars and belts on the road. We proposed two data dissemination techniques, one for divided roads and another one for undivided roads. We also proposed a probabilistic technique used by belts to determine how far should an incident notification be sent to alert approaching drivers.

Our fifth contribution is to propose a security technique to avoid possible attacks from malicious drivers as well as preserving driver's privacy in data dissemination and notification delivery in NOTICE. We also proposed a belt clustering scheme to reduce the probability of having a black-hole in the message dissemination while reducing also the operational burden if a belt is compromised.


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