News / Science & Technology

    Smart Road 'Talks' to Cars, Warns of Dangers

    Smart Road 'Talks' to Cars, Warns of Dangersi
    X
    Carolyn Presutti
    July 11, 2014 9:14 PM
    How would you drive differently if traffic signals could tell you when they were about to turn red? Or, if your car could warn you of a pedestrian crossing the road ahead of you? Researchers are working on these advances on what’s called a “Smart Road” in Virginia. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti puts you in the driver’s seat to show how it’s done.

    How would you drive differently if traffic signals could tell you when they were about to turn red? Or, if your car could warn you of a pedestrian crossing the road ahead of you? Researchers are working on these advances on what’s called a “Smart Road” in Virginia.

    Inside the car as the driver gets a warning that a construction worker is ahead. The driver knows because of high-tech devices that “talk” to the car.

    A backpack worn by the construction worker has a GPS antenna. It’s connected to a device which is connected to the car, telling the vehicle how close the construction worker is. Eventually all this equipment will be incorporated into a construction vest.  

    If you are a driver nearing a traffic signal. A device inches away from the steering wheel shows your speed and how many milliseconds you have until the light turns red.  If you ignore the information, it tells you that you have run a red light.

    Researchers are studying these projects on a 3.5-kilometer Virginia Smart Road, maintained by the state transportation department and managed by Virginia Tech University.

    Luke Neurauter of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute said the devices can easily work worldwide, said, “Research will need to determine how to alert drivers because they have regional differences and driving styles, and so the timing of the alerts might be different.”

    On a clear day in rural Virginia, the technology works perfectly.  Inclement weather also is tested on the Smart Road. A 1,900-liter water tank [500,000 gallon] feeds into 75 weather-making towers. The towers can create snow, fog, freezing rain and heavy downpours.

    “We’ve got three 700-horsepower pumps that pump water up to the road," said Rob Gibbons of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. "We bring it out and shoot it through a nozzle and throw it out in the air and let gravity pull it down as rain.”

    Researchers are taking their tests on the road to do real traffic studies. By the end of the year, drivers along this busy interstate highway near Washington will hear beeping horns as their normal cars transform into "smart" cars on a "Smart Road." The Virginia Tech scientists envision a future when this type of technology is mandatory equipment on all cars.

     

     


    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mark from: Virginia
    July 15, 2014 5:07 PM
    making a road 'smarter' is not the answer, but a clever way to spend more money on something that will eventually get shelved, along with all the other neat ideas that don't work. While the road and the technology gets 'smarter', it is the driver behind the wheel that decides what to do.
    Running a red light? Whether a device tells you of an impending light or not, the driver is still going to run it, if that driver is in a hurry. Pedestrians in the crosswalk? Test this out an any Wal-Mart, anywhere, I have YET to have a driver stop when I am in the crosswalk at a Wal-Mart... even if I am already IN the crosswalk, a driver will speed up to beat me rather than spend a few seconds waiting for me to cross.
    Such a device is only one more distraction in a motor vehicle, and don't we have enough distractions to worry about? Its not like driving is enough of a challenge on any given day, there are music systems, cell phones, gps devices talking, the odd sight out the window, all to take our attention away from the wheel and the road.
    And for that poor construction worker (all that technology to be placed in a vest someday), to have to wear a backpack full of gadgetry until that fancy shmancy vest becomes available, in the open sun on a hot and humid day when the heat index is pushing past 100 degrees, sure lets make their job even more arduous and straining.

    Now, if such a device could prevent a drunk from getting on the road before the vehicle is started...now THAT would be helpful.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora