Adaptive estimation of noise covariance matrices in unscented Kalman filter for multiclass traffic flow model

Dong Ngoduy, Agachai Sumalee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Traffic state estimation problems must deal with imperfect information. Imperfect information may occur as a result of misalignments between reality and the assumptions or simplifications made when developing the models as well as incomplete or corrupted data. One of the well-known methods of handling imperfect information is the Kalman filter algorithm and its variations, such as the extended Kalman filter and the unscented Kalman filter. While the standard Kalman filter and the extended Kalman filter have been widely applied to the state estimation of linear systems, the unscented Kalman filter has been reported the better choice in the multiclass traffic state estimation. In many applications of Kalman filters to traffic estimation problems, the model and measurement noise covariance matrices are normally estimated. When there is a mismatch between the true and the assumed noise distribution, however, the filter often suffers from performance degradation and even divergence in certain situations. To this end, this paper presents a more efficient and accurate algorithm embedded in the unscented Kalman filter to simultaneously estimate the traffic state and the model noise distribution statistics. The proposed method is facilitated through a simultaneous update of the model noise covariance matrix in the predicted covariance equations of the unscented Kalman filter algorithm. It is found through simulation that the proposed algorithm may improve the model performance over the standard algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number2188
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

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