The Technology Strategy Board last month announced the results of its Enabling the internet of sensors – Feasibility study competition, including two transport related projects among the eleven projects selected to receive funding.
Clearview Traffic Group Limited, working with University of Bedfordshire will be supported to develop novel algorithms for solar-powered in-road sensors to measure speed and classify vehicles to inform intelligent traffic management decisions; plus Plessey Semiconductors Limited, with Nottingham Trent University will be supported to develop an automotive driver heart-rate sensor system as a road safety measure.
Real time analysis of such data will enable the monitoring system to take early action to prevent a driver from falling asleep at the wheel and in the case of commercial vehicle operations, transmit the data over a wireless network to a control centre for automated monitoring of driver wellbeing.
Networked intelligent sensor systems
The Technology Strategy Board is investing over £1.1m in feasibility studies to stimulate innovation in networked intelligent sensor systems, and related applications. This is to help development the ‘Internet of Sensors' - where sensors enable all kinds of machines and appliances to communicate and co-ordinate with each other through an information network.
Sensors enable the physical world to interact with computers, providing richer data than is available via manual input. According to the Technology Strategy Board, sensors drive, and will continue to drive, the Internet of Things, a concept in which machines and appliances are able to ‘talk to each other' through the information network.
According to a recently published report from ABI Research, the Internet of Things currently involves over 10 billion wireless connected devices, and the report predicts that this figure will triple in size to more than 30 billion devices by 2020 as users plug more and more objects into the network. ABI predicts that by 2020 sensors will account for over 60% of the Internet of Things: with this level of involvement, it might be more representative to talk about the Internet of Sensors. The global sensors market is now estimated to be worth around £43bn.
The aim of this competition is to extend the capabilities of sensor systems. It aims to encourage companies and academic researchers to investigate the feasibility of new concepts in this area, whilst addressing challenges in the application of connected sensor devices.
Autonomous sensor systems to collect accurate and reliable traffic data
The University of Bedfordshire campus at Milton Keynes, and the University’s Department of Computer Science and Technology, together with Clearview Traffic Group is to explore the feasibility of extending vehicle counting data – obtained from solar-powered sensors built into roads – to include information such as the classification of each vehicle and its speed.
This collected data will be used to inform transport managers and road network operators in order that they can minimise congestion and emissions, reduce accidents and lower the costs of installation and maintenance traditionally linked to in-road traffic data collection systems.
Professor Ben Allen, Professor of Computer Science at University Campus Milton Keynes, will lead the University’s contribution to the project.
Clearview Traffic Group will lead the 13-month, £116,000, research and development project - supported by £94,970 from Technology Strategy Board.
Dr Chris Barnes, Head of Engineering at Clearview Traffic Group, said, “This project will stimulate innovation at the intersection between connected computing and the use of sensors, providing traffic and transport data that can help decision-making around traffic management.”
“The global market for intelligent transport solutions is substantial, and rising year on year. In partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, and with financial support from the Technology Strategy Board, we aim to bring innovative technology to market as soon as possible.”
Novel ways to squeeze vehicle data for wireless transmission
To accurately measure the speed of passing vehicles, detectors must be placed some distance apart. While wireless communication negates the need for costly and problematic cables linking the sensors, it is currently impractical to send all data collected from each sensor due to size, power and capacity limitations.
The project aim to develop algorithms for solar-powered in-road sensors capable of gathering and compressing vital vehicle data, enabling it to be sent wirelessly to derive speed and vehicle classification, creating actionable information and informing intelligent traffic management decision-making.
University of Bedfordshire said the project starts this month and it will receive funding from the Technology Strategy Board of up to £30,000 for its contribution.
Wireless Vehicle Detection For MIDAS
Also, this month, Clearview Traffic gained formal Highways Agency Type Approval for its M100 sensors and M150 interface card to be used as a viable alternative to inductive loops for (Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling system) MIDAS applications.
This has been achieved through meeting the performance and assessment requirements of the Highways Agency MCH1529 standard.
The Highways Agency's Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling system, more commonly known as MIDAS, has been in use on its network since 1997 to enable regional control centres to monitor traffic speeds along active traffic management zones of the UK motorway network.
Clearview's M100 system uses wireless communications, so is easier and quicker to install than with inductive loops as it eliminates the need for any ducting or trenching across the running lanes, reducing the amount of traffic management required and minimising disruption to the road user.
The system has already been deployed on the M5 near Birmingham for over 12 months, where traditional inductive loops were not performing due to the distance from the MIDAS outstation. The M100 system was able to work with the extended reach of its wireless capability.
MIDAS system has evolved to form the heart of 'Smart Motorways', previously known as 'Managed Motorways', 'Hard Shoulder Running' or the 'All Lane Running' concept that is now being rolled out across the network to increase capacity on the most congested sections. This approval of the Clearview Traffic M100 MIDAS system to the HA's MCH1529 standard allows for these schemes to also benefit from lower cost MIDAS detection.