Have you ever wondered what’s in those big metal boxes on street corners? Some may be painted and some may be plain aluminum – but what goes on inside those things?
If you happen to be at an intersection with a traffic signal, what you’re looking at is a signal controller cabinet. These cabinets control the traffic signal and house all the sensitive electronic equipment that help the signal work efficiently.
What’s in the box?
- Signal controller: The brains! These devices are simple computers that receive inputs from various sources that, along with a timing plan, make decisions on how to change the signal.
- Detection: The eyes and ears. Our traffic signals use one of three types of detection methods (video, inductive loop and magnetometers) to notify the signal that there is a vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian at the intersection, allowing the controller to provide each their turn in the intersection.
- Priority Devices: Decision-making part of the brain. These detect when an ambulance or fire truck is coming and make sure that they have quick and safe passage.
- Communication equipment: The mouth! Traffic signals communicate with each other through a copper wire system or fiber optic system similar to high speed internet systems.
All these parts work together to keep a signal operating reliably. Now you know what’s in the box!