R&DApril 1, 2006 By: Stephanie vL Henkel, Sensors Sensors
Advancing Sensor Technology
Meet the Road Monitor
New Hampshire's Department of Transportation, in conjunction with Plymouth State University, is about to tackle a particularly thorny problem: unpredictable road surface conditions. The Road Weather Information System (RWIS) consists of multiple sensors and towers that report local conditions to the DOT and other agencies. Let's take a closer look.
Stephanie vL Henkel
Temperature probes buried ~47 cm below the roadway surface and hardwired to the surface sensors will help determine frost depth. The surface detectors (Surface Systems Inc., www.ssiweather.com), resembling hockey pucks, will be embedded in the pavement. These will detect and relay specific road conditions such as dry, damp, wet, or snow/ice-covered, and pavement temperature, as well as whether an anti-icing chemical has been applied to the surface. They will communicate their data wirelessly to a nearby tower, as will others in the suite of sensors at each location: ambient air temperature, relative humidity/dew point, visibility, wind speed and direction, ozone levels, and type and rate of precipitation. At some sites, traffic monitors will be installed to provide vehicle counts, speeds, and classifications.
Equipped with additional sensors
All 11 RWIS sites will be polled at 20-min. intervals. A central server at the DOT headquarters in Concord will allow simultaneous polling. Broadband connections will be used wherever they currently exist, and dial-up modems will do the job elsewhere. The real-time information will be invaluable for making decisions about when and how to treat a stretch of highway; identifying dangerous patches so that traveler advisories can be issued; and forecasting pavement conditions for specific roadway segments. The meteorological data will also be shared with other government agencies and with educational institutions.
Pavement sensors report their data to nearby towers
The project is funded by the NHDOT, FHWA, and NOAA. To read "Implementation of RWIS in New Hampshire," visit http://tinyurl.com/m9u4n
Progress in Reverse
This is an unusual item for the R&D department, but there was simply no other space for it in this issue. And we think the technology is important enough to warrant a deviation from our standard fare. In a nutshell, radar-based object detection has been linked to a brake interlock system to yield a new system that not only alerts a truck driver to something behind the rig, but actually stops the vehicle before it strikes or runs over that object.
The brake system components
This is the result of technology sharing between MICO, a manufacturer of hydraulic brakes, and Preco Electronics Inc. (www.preco.com), a maker of vehicle communication systems. It combines MICO's Model 691 electrohydraulic brake locks with Preco's PreView radar object detection.
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