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MITSIMLab: Microscopic Traffic Simulator Laboratory

  • MITSIMLab is a simulation-based laboratory that was developed for evaluating the impacts of alternative traffic management system designs at the operational level and assisting in subsequent design refinement

  • Examples of systems that can be evaluated with MITSIMLab include advanced traffic management systems (ATMS) and route guidance systems

  • MITSIMLab represents a wide range of traffic management system designs and is a synthesis of a number of different models

  • MITSIMLab models the response of drivers to real-time traffic information and controls and incorporates the dynamic interaction between the traffic management system and the drivers on the network

The various components of MITSIMLab are organized in three modules:

  • Microscopic Traffic Simulator (MITSIM)

  • Traffic Management Simulator (TMS)

  • Graphical User Interface (GUI)

A microscopic simulation approach, in which movements of individual vehicles are represented, is adopted for modeling traffic flow in the traffic flow simulator (MITSIM). This level of detail is necessary for an evaluation at the operational level. The Traffic Management Simulator (TMS) represents the candidate traffic control and routing logic under evaluation. The control and routing strategies generated by the traffic management module determine the status of the traffic control and route guidance devices. Drivers respond to the various traffic controls and guidance while interacting with each other. The main elements of MITSIM are: Network Components, Travel Demand and Route Choice, Driving Behavior. The Traffic Management Simulator (TMS) mimics the traffic control system under evaluation. A wide range of traffic control and route guidance systems can be evaluated, such as: Ramp Control, Freeway Mainline Control, Lane Control Signs (LCS), Variable Speed Limit Signs (VSLS), Portal Signals at tunnel entrances (PS), Intersection Control, Variable Message Signs (VMS), In-vehicle Route Guidance. TMS has a generic structure that can represent different designs of such systems with logic at varying levels of sophistication (from pre-timed to responsive). The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is used for both, debugging purposes and demonstration of traffic impacts through vehicle animation. MITSIMLab is an open-source application where its core models have been written in C++ and are fully available. It has been successfully applied in several traffic and research studies in the USA, the UK, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Portugal.


Ben-Akiva, Moshe, Margaret Cortes, Angus Davol, Haris Koutsopoulos, and Tomer Toledo. "MITSIMLab: Enhancements and applications for urban networks." In 9th World Conference on Transportation Research (WCTR). 2001.

Ben-Akiva, Moshe, Angus Davol, Tomer Toledo, Haris N. Koutsopoulos, Wilco Burghout, Ingmar Andréasson, Tobias Johansson, and Christer Lundin. "Calibration and evaluation of MITSIMLab in Stockholm." In Transportation Research Board, 81st Annual Meeting, Washington, DC. 2002.

Cuneo, David, Mithilesh Jha, and Moshe Ben-Akiva. "An evaluation of integrated freeway traffic control and route diversion using microscopic simulation." Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999).

Yang, Qi, Haris N. Koutsopoulos, and Moshe E. Ben-Akiva. "Simulation laboratory for evaluating dynamic traffic management systems." Transportation Research Record 1710, no. 1 (2000): 122-130.

Yang, Qi, and Haris N. Koutsopoulos. "A microscopic traffic simulator for evaluation of dynamic traffic management systems." Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies 4, no. 3 (1996): 113-129.

Ahmed, K., M. Ben-Akiva, H. Koutsopoulos, and R. Mishalani. "Models of freeway lane changing and gap acceptance behavior." Transportation and traffic theory 13 (1996): 501-515.

Ben-Akiva, M., H. N. Koutsopoulos, and Q. Yang. "User’s guide for MITSIMLab and road network editor (RNE)." ITS Program at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA, Technical Report Draft (2002).

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