Detection Technologies for Challenging Road Environments

Dynamic environments like roads may become challenging quite rapidly: whether due to dense fog, heavy rain, low sunlight, or even sudden complete darkness.

The article was originally posted in the September 2023 issue of TTI Magazine, available here.

The modern world is dependent on transport. From the economic aspects - international trade and the transportation of goods - to the everyday human aspects, such as commuting or visiting family on the other side of town: The ability to move around has a significant impact on our time, money, and quality of life. Due to that, all efforts to increase the safety and efficiency of transportation are of the highest importance - and detection solutions play a vital role in that mission.

The role of detection systems is clear: detect and classify any object – from a pedestrian to a large truck - on the road and deliver the data to the traffic management center. When faced with potential danger - an accident, a vehicle driving in the wrong direction, queuing traffic, and similar, the system should be able to trigger an alarm in real-time and allow a reaction to the incident: Thus ensuring fast assistance to road users by the operators.

Interurban roads, such as highways, bridges, and tunnels, must provide the necessary safety. A Germany-based radar producer - smartmicro - has over 25 years of experience providing state-of-the-art solutions in applications that require a more complex approach.

Dynamic environments like roads may become challenging quite rapidly: whether due to dense fog, heavy rain, low sunlight, or even sudden complete darkness. In many of these scenarios, many detection systems fail, while radar sensors stay put and deliver the high-performance detection you can rely on.

While considering detection technology for bridges and tunnels, above-ground systems like radar sensors are the perfect choice. The installation of the hardware can be done on existing infrastructure, often omitting the need for a road closure. After installation and setup of the system, it requires no further adjustments. It also does not pose a need for frequent maintenance or cleaning. Integration of smartmicro’s maintenance-free radars decreases the cost of ownership significantly.

Due to the forward-firing principle, radar sensors immediately detect and report wrong-way driving and sudden speed or lane changes, which often indicate a possible incident. Moreover, with the smartmicro Event Trigger Module, specific zones of interest can be defined and combined with particular events, allowing the detector to send trigger messages when needed, for example, when a car stops in the middle of a road or at a hard shoulder.

The latest addition to the TRUGRD product line - TRUGRD LR - stands out as a go-to model for highway applications. With its ultra-long range of up to 500m, the TRUGRD LR offers extended coverage with fewer devices, resulting in easy and cost-effective installations. Its proven success in incident detection - such as wrong-way driving - enhances road safety. The same system can provide other actionable data, including counting and classification, which operators often use to manage the maintenance of roadways efficiently.

Highways and freeways, known for heavy traffic, benefit significantly from the TRUGRD LR's precision. The sensor presents exceptional performance, enabling direct measurement of the range, speed, and azimuth angle (lane position) of all vehicles in real-time.

Compared to other detection technologies, radar sensors are undoubtedly the best choice. By integrating radar sensor technology, transportation systems can overcome many challenges and aim the way for safer, smoother, and more efficient travel for all road users.