Safe or Slippery - Detecting Dangerous Roads
Reported December 2011
LOUISVILLE, Colo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) ---Men and women don’t see eye to eye when it comes to rating the driving skills of their significant others. Sixty-eight percent of men say they’re better drivers, while only 25 percent of women think they are better drivers. But in the battle of the sexes there is agreement on one thing--more than 80 percent on both sides say icy roads and pouring rain are the two most difficult weather conditions for driving. Now, new technology on the road can help detect unfavorable driving conditions faster.
From snow covered streets to black ice you can’t see 1.5 million accidents are related to bad weather conditions each year. More than 7,000 people a year die, because dangerous driving conditions pose a hazard to drivers and their passengers. Traffic cameras and weather reports help drivers and road crews know what’s going on—but now, a new warning system reports the road’s conditions straight from the pavement.
“We want to tell them what’s happening right now and also tell them what’s going to happen in the future,” Kevin Petty, Ph.D., Atmospheric scientist and Head of technology research at Vaisala told Ivanhoe.
A team of atmospheric scientists and engineers at Vaisala has created an advanced sensor system that can be embedded into the pavement.
“It can actually measure what’s on the roads surface in terms of ice, snow, frost or water,” Paul Bridge, an engineer at Weather critical operations at Vaisala told Ivanhoe.
Infrared lasers remotely read the road’s surface temperature and within a micro-second the information is transmitted to a computer.
“Here we have the lens that’s actually firing the lasers out to the road surface. The second lens is actually collecting the lasers return,” Bridge said.
In a demo, frost is turned into black ice.
“What we can see on the screen here is that the temperature is dropping and the friction is actually very low. We know this road is icy. We’re alarmed and we now know exactly how much ice is on the road. This is telling me there is 0.4 millimeters of ice,” Bridge explained.
Weather stations along the road provide temperature, precipitation, wind, speed and wind direction -- while embedded sensors measure the surface temperature of the road and the temperature of the ground below the road.
“They get a green, yellow or red type warning. ‘Do I need to pay attention to that road?’” Dr. Petty explained.
The American Meteorological Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
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Safe or Slippery? Detecting Dangerous Roads
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