In the long run, RWIS will become part of the ITS architecture, via IntelliDrive. Ultimately, the future smart cars and roadways of IntelliDrive will collect, transmit, and analyze real-time weather information. Even now, most cars carry onboard thermometers, and luxury models can detect airborne precipitation, which automatically triggers windshield wiper operation. In the meantime, onboard anti-skid computers analyze tire-pavement friction and automatically initiate antilock braking in skid situations. Air-density sensors that could indicate relative humidity for a network system already are used in conjunction with fuel injectors. All of these common environmental indicators could be put to use for real-time pavement conditions on a microscale.
Ultimately, information such as Black Ice Ahead, 100 feet will become available on the dashboard of a vehicle, as it approaches pavement that other vehicles have sensed.
The Clarus Initiative is on schedule for completion in late 2010, with transitional activities extending to 2012, according to RITA, the Research and Innovative Technology Administration of the U.S. DOT, which administers ITS development. The initiative will conduct a variety of technology transfers and ultimate transition to an operational capability of the Clarus System, including transitioning the initiative to NOAA, expansion of participation by state and local governments, continued research, integration with other systems, and promotion of wider use, RITA said.
While ITS initiatives move ahead on a regional and multi-state basis, IntelliDrive remains the “Holy Grail” of the U.S. DOT and its public- and private-sector partners.
“Imagine a world where highway crashes and their tragic consequences are significantly reduced, vehicles of all types can talk to traffic signals to eliminate unnecessary stops and help people drive in the most fuel efficient manner, travelers can get accurate travel time information about all modes and route options and the potential environmental impacts of their choices, and transportation managers have data to accurately assess multi-modal transportation system performance,” suggested Peter Appel, Research and Innovative Technology administrator, in March. “This vision may be closer than you think, and is the focus of the department’s next five-year ITS Strategic Research Plan.”
The new strategic plan, released in December 2009, relies more than ever before on the potentially transformative capabilities of wireless technology to implement ITS in America.
“The core of the research plan is IntelliDrive, a multimodal initiative that aims to enable safe, interoperable wireless connectivity between vehicles (autos, buses, trucks, and other fleets), infrastructure and passengers’ devices to support safety, mobility and environmental enhancements,” Appel said in March.
“IntelliDrive could potentially address 82 percent of the vehicle crash scenarios involving unimpaired drivers,” said Shelley Row, P.E., director of RITA’s ITS Joint Program Office, in late November. “At full coverage and full effectiveness, IntelliDrive could save thousands of lives per year.”
IntelliDrive proposes improved mobility, safety and environment through the adoption of smart technologies. Mobility and congestion would be improved via vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and infrastructure-to-vehicle (I2V) communications in which operations, traffic, transit, weather and even parking availability information contribute to a data-rich environment. IntelliDrive would use wireless communications on dedicated short range communication (DSRC) bands to provide connectivity with and between vehicles (V2V); between vehicles and roadway infrastructure; and among vehicles, infrastructure and wireless consumer devices.
It’s thought that IntelliDrive can reduce congestion. By using V2I capabilities and anonymous information from passengers’ wireless devices relayed through DSRC and other wireless transmission media, the program has the potential to provide transportation agencies with dramatically improved quality and quantity of real-time traffic, transit and parking data, making it easier to manage transportation systems for maximum efficiency and minimum congestion. Thus, the system could also enable travelers to change their route, time and mode of travel, based on up-to-the-minute conditions, to avoid traffic jams.v
ITS Boosts Snow and Ice Control
In southeastern Michigan, ITS — combined with a modern fleet management system — is helping the three largest public road agencies in the Detroit metropolitan region to create one of the nation’s most efficient and coordinated winter road maintenance systems.
The Southeastern Michigan Snow and Ice Management (SEMSIM) program is the first project of its type in the United States, in which multiple governmental agencies collectively use fleet management technologies that were originally developed by the U.S. military.
SEMSIM uses satellite-based fleet management technology to track more than 400 winter road maintenance vehicles as they cover over 5,500 miles of roads, and serve a population of more than three million.
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