The annual Automated Vehicles Symposium was held again this week in San Francisco. Attendance continues to grow in this TRB sponsored event, topping more than 1500 manufacturers, academics, and other practitioners.
Breakout Session #18 was titled, “Reading the Road Ahead: Infrastructure Readiness.” As the name implies, this session focused on our roads and what must be done to prepare them for autonomous vehicles.
On January 2nd iCone announced a new data-sharing partnership with Waze. Waze, as you may know, collects travel time data from its users and then shares it with them. Users may also note special problems like work zones or crashes as they travel. They even note the prices at individual gas stations.
Waze already shows the work zones reported by state DOTs. But now any work zone equipped with iCones will also show up. After all, not all work zones are reported. And not all that are reported actually take place. Better yet, they will appear as soon as the work begins, and they will disappear as soon as the work ends, making this truly real-time!
A brilliant study was published in November by the Illinois Center for Transportation Studies entitled “Improving the Effectiveness of Smart Work Zone Technologies.” The principal researchers were Yanning Li, Juan Carlos Martinez Mori and Daniel Work. Download it here.
It is brilliant for a couple of reasons. It moves past the studies we conduct over and over again that look at the effectiveness of smart work zone systems. Those have been done, and there really isn’t much more to be learned from additional studies. We know they work. It has been proven. Enough said.
Instead, this study looks at ways of making something good, even better. There is so much new information is this study that we will discuss it in two separate blog posts. This first one will look at their conclusions regarding sensor types, sensor spacing, and missing data. The second will consider travel time estimation and, in particular, their recommendation of the Kalmar filter algorithm.
How Kansas DOT Got a Better Smart Work Zone for an Order of Magnitude Less Money
The Department of Transportation in Kansas let two smart work zones in 2016. One which you’d call “typical” and one that was very different. In this post we look at how changing your approach to smart work zones can be a net positive for your state.
The Number One Reason More Work Zones Are Not Smart Work Zones is Because They Are Expensive
According to the district engineer, Southern Illinois spent an average of $640,000 per smart work zone in 2014/2015.
If a smart work zone costs between half a million and million dollars, its no wonder more states don’t do it. It’s no wonder states are hesitant to specify them in on more projects. And it is certainly no wonder why every work zones isn’t a smart work zone…at least at those kinds of prices.
It was the same in Kansas, earlier this year. There was a letting on February 17th of 2016, a 20 million dollar project that would have a major impact on traffic in Wichita. Five bridges would be rehabbed along I-235, the major ring road of the city, and preliminary analysis suggested that significant queues would form. To mitigate risk of rear end collisions, and to help inform the motorists of delays, they included a smart work zone with end of queue warning and travel time automation.
Kansas DOT reached out to us and wanted to turn smart work zones on their head. They saw the trend of half+ million dollar projects and wanted to do something different. We advised them on the same things we wrote about earlier this week, that smart work zones are easy.
Any PCMS can be a “Smart” PCMS. Let the local guys place their own signs.
Use your permanent infrastructure. AKA use what you already have.
Use what is safe.
Get innovative with how you pay for it.
On July 20th, Ross Sheckler of iCone made a presentation to the Autonomous Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco. The title of his presentation was “What Do Automated and Connected Vehicles Need to Know About Work Zones?” His message was very important. It was well-received by those in attendance, but the group that needs to hear this is many times larger than the 100 or so people in the room that day. So we will try to make his main points in today’s post.
Remember, most of the attendees were not work zone people, though a few of us were there that day. Most work for automotive manufacturers or component manufacturers. They produce navigation systems – some in use today and some that will guide autonomous vehicles in the future. Those cars will drive through our work zones, yet the folks who produce them know very little about temporary traffic control. So Ross began by pointing out that the map changes 1,000 times per day due to work zones. 1,000 times per day workers change the law, and 10,000 times per day warnings are posted. His point being, of course, that we must find a way to inform these systems.