The digital revolution has not only changed the way in which people relate to other people, but it is also transforming the way in which objects interact with other objects. For this reason, the application of the Internet of Things in electric cars and autonomous driving is essential. For the transport of the future to be efficient the vehicles of tomorrow will have to be connected both to each other and to their environment. Roads are a fundamental part of this environment and in order for them to participate in this exchange of information, they must become smart roads.
WHAT FEATURES WILL THE SMART ROADS OF THE FUTURE HAVE?
In order to reduce emissions, accidents, and traffic congestion, the European Union has been proposed to use the latest technologies to make our transport infrastructures safer, more sustainable, and smarter. If we take into account the studies, plans, and projects on smart infrastructures in various EU countries, we observe that smart roads are characterized by making use of:
- Internet of Things (IoT): IoT has the potential to revolutionize the mobility and transportation industry, as by collecting highly useful data and information, it can improve the efficiency of transportation systems.
- Big Data: the analysis of the data big help to the transport sector predict volumes of users as accurately as possible.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI systems are based on human intelligence and learn over time, so these machines could eventually do critical thinking work and make decisions for themselves. Traffic management systems and autonomous vehicles are two examples of the benefits that AI offers.
- Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS): These are applications of information and communication technologies as they relate to transportation. Currently, ITS services are being developed for different modes of transport, for the interfaces between them, and for traffic management systems, so that users are better informed and make secure, coordinated, and intelligent use of the transport networks.
INNOVATIONS: SMART TRAFFIC SIGNS FROM PROINOVA
We can look at Spain for an example of Smart Road technology. With the aim of reducing the accident rate on their smaller roads, the DGT has introduced an intelligent crossing system developed by PROINova, a Spanish company that designs and manufactures solutions and products specialized in the road safety sector. According to the DGT, more than 60% of traffic accidents occur on minor roads and through this system, the number of traffic victims could be reduced by between 40 and 55%.
HOW DO THE SMART CROSSINGS OF THE DGT WORK?
The objective of this system is to alert drivers who are heading towards an intersection where the presence of another has been detected, with the intention of passing through that same intersection. Intelligent traffic signs use vehicle-infrastructure-vehicle (V2V) information exchange technology and work as follows:
- The vehicle approaching the crossing is detected by sensors that are located on the road.
- The sensors send a signal to the Data Processing Station (EDP), which activates the intelligent signal and warns the vehicles traveling on the main road of the presence of another vehicle that is about to join.
- The sensors then send a new continuous signal to the dynamic signal, which stays on as long as the vehicle on the second lane is on the stop line.
- When the vehicle on the secondary road begins to maneuver across the intersection, the signal will remain active for approximately three seconds.