Spatial Transferability of Machine Learning Based Volume Estimation Models

Research output: NRELPoster


High-quality traffic volume data is essential for efficient transportation planning and operations. However, such high-quality data is expensive to collect, owing primarily to the high capital cost of installing and maintaining continuous counting stations (CCSs). Recent availability of probe-based vehicle data offers a cost-effective solution for increasing the observability of traffic volumes. However, having ample ground truth traffic data is a prerequisite for developing robust volume estimation models. Though this might not be a big issue in many states, states with scarce CCS data might be able to benefit from robust volume estimation models developed in (adjacent) data-rich states. While there is a reasonable amount of spatial transferability research in the transportation domain, there is a dearth of knowledge on the spatial transferability of probe-based volume estimation models. To address this gap, this paper explores spatial transferability of volume estimation models developed from data in three states (Colorado, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania). Results indicate that it is extremely important to maintain temporal consistency when attempting spatial transferability of volume estimation models. It was also found that models trained on regions with lower peak traffic volumes will limit the performance of models transferred to states with higher peak hourly traffic volumes. Corroborating findings from existing spatial transferability research on other topics, it was found that a meta-model (developed using data from multiple states) performs better than volume estimation models developed within any one of the states.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, 21-29 January 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5400-78829


  • machine learning
  • meta-model
  • probe counts
  • spatial transferability
  • traffic volume


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