The Future of Intelligent Road Infrastructure: 5 Trends You Need To Know
The use of new innovative technology in traffic management is being implemented at a pace that is hard to keep up with, so what does the future of intelligent road infrastructure look like?
With the Australian population on track to reach 30 million by 2030, and traffic accidents costing the Australian economy in excess of $27 billion per annum, it is no surprise that road infrastructure is set to remain high on the agenda of both the federal and state governments well into the future.
Today across Australia, more than 1,780 road projects are underway with IBIS World reporting that the number of large scale projects will increase to industry record levels over the next five years, climbing to $20.4 billion by 2020/21.
We've summarised a bit about what’s already happening in this space and what can you expect to see in the coming years:
Trend 1: In Vehicle Management Systems
Using either cellular or satellite communications, In Vehicle Management Systems (IVMS) provide organisational assurance for fleet managers as well as productivity efficiencies, by monitoring and providing driver behaviour data on lone workers, vehicles and other assets in the field.
These intelligent systems monitor the location and behaviour of the vehicle as well providing a mechanism for duress alarms and monitoring in real time. In addition to proven reliability, what really sets these systems apart, is the data collection and handling capability, which enables companies to collect, process and disseminate data specific to their unique business requirements.
Trend 2: Cooperative - Intelligent Transportations Systems
The latest development in infrastructure technology is Cooperative Intelligent Transportation Systems (CITS). CITS use technology to allow vehicles to communicate with other vehicles, traffic signals and roadside infrastructure. The systems are also known as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.
Connected vehicles use dedicated short-range wireless systems. They share information, such as vehicle position, direction and speed, with other connected vehicles at a rate of 10 times per second. Using this information, drivers in connected vehicles receive safety alerts about potential dangers such as; drivers on the crests of hills or driving around bends can be warned of risks on the road ahead.
CITS increase the quality and reliability of information available to drivers about their immediate environment, other vehicles and road users. These systems have the potential to improve road safety and the efficiency of road networks.
Trend 3: Bluetooth Communications
Using Bluetooth technology within a vehicle (such as your mobile phone), receivers located along the motorway can identify the mac address of passing vehicles. Using a combination of live and historical travel time data, an algorithm calculates travel time and congestion and delivers travel time information to motorists. This data is delivered to motorists via roadside variable message signs and for those with the Addinsight App installed and running on their Android or Apple device, an audio alert detailing the location and type of incident, plus the expected additional delays, allowing them to divert and avoid further congestion.
Trend 4: Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous or Driverless vehicles were tested on Australian roads in 2015, when the country’s first trials took place in Adelaide. Leading the trials was national independent road research agency ARRB group. ARRB involved partner organisations, including SAGE Automation, to seek understanding of what is required to make driverless technology a reality for Australian Roads and safe for road users.
The result was a statement that described the technology as far from science fiction, instead it is a short term reality that we need to prepare for - particularly given the Australian climate and road conditions which create unique requirements in infrastructure, markings, surfaces and roadside signage.
“The most significant program of cooperative activity in the industry this century. Australia’s early adoption, investment and leadership in this space will dictate our international competitiveness for many decades to come.” Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative
Legislation is currently being considered to incorporate driverless vehicles - which is a good thing, given it is expected that within 5 years we’ll see some autonomous vehicles on the road, and by 2030 – autonomous vehicles will likely be the only vehicles on the road!
SAGE Automation is proud to be a member of ADVI, The Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative. As a cooperative, ADVI members are working with government, industry and academia to investigate and identify options and outcomes to help inform the development of robust national policy, legislation, regulation, facilities and operational processes to bring self-driving vehicles safely to Australian roads. This is certainly an exciting space to watch.
Trend 5: Working with Specialist Engineering Firms
Infrastructure providers are already installing high speed fibres during road upgrades and development projects which will support the deployment of the latest technology within their road networks. They are also turning to specialist engineering firms to partner with them due to the advanced solutions being sought.
Some of the smart solutions being implemented right now include:
- Field devices are being developed with a plug and play format, rather than hardwiring, with the fast tracking of installation, commissioning, ongoing support, maintenance and replacement in mind and is greatly reducing the cost and inconvenience of lengthy road closures.
- Variable Message Signs are being developed in a modular format. This is enabling the replacement of parts for ease of maintenance and reduced costs, rather than replacement of the entire sign.
- Field Cabinets are being installed with battery backup and UPS solutions to enable full function for up to 48 hours of operation without power.
- 2D barcodes within field cabinets are also enabling maintenance teams to access electrical drawings, detailed user manuals, electrical schematics, test and commissioning sheets and the latest maintenance reports right there in the field.
- The latest technology in energy efficiency is being installed within the Heysen Tunnel in South Australia. Fully dimmable lighting, which enables lighting brightness to be automatically adjusted as the walls of a tunnel get dirty and lengthens the time between maintenance and tunnel closure. Power Factor correction technology is also being installed to reduce harmonic distortion and increase the life of the devices within the tunnel network.
- Remote vibration monitoring of the Jet Fans within road tunnels is reducing unscheduled road closures to replace jet fans using algorithms to predict the rate of wear and allowing predictive maintenance to be scheduled.