Asphalt-embedded sensors could shake wayward drivers alert


June 3, 2010

The WayPilot system uses radio transponders to alert drivers when they're drifting out of their lane

The WayPilot system uses radio transponders to alert drivers when they're drifting out of their lane

More and more cars are integrating driver assistance features that help do things like avoid collisions, keep a safe distance from other vehicles, or even parallel park. There are also Lane Departure Warning systems that use onboard cameras to keep the driver from drifting out of their lane. But what happens if the roadside markings are worn away, or covered with snow or mud? Norwegian research organization SINTEF has come up with a solution called WayPilot – a system which uses sensors embedded in the asphalt and a shaking steering wheel to alert drivers before they stray too far off course.

Development on WayPilot started back in 2004, when a company of the same name was working on a system to warn drivers when their car was unintentionally leaving a marked lane. SINTEF joined the project in 2006, further developing WayPilot by using a vehicle simulator to evaluate the interaction between system and driver.

Here’s how it works. Radio transponders in robust plastic casings are buried under the top asphalt layer of the road. These communicate with corresponding devices in the base of a test car's door openings. When the car’s transponders get too close to those in the road, the driver is alerted to the situation. Initially a smartphone-delivered warning was considered, but test subjects found that a vibrating steering wheel was much more effective.

The question that arises, perhaps, is whether WayPilot is any better than good old-fashioned rumble strips. Presumably, the RF signals could reach through snow and ice that might cover ordinary rumble strips. Also, drivers could be warned as they’re still approaching the edge of their lane, as opposed to only once they’re actually going over the line.

Norway’s Public Roads Administration has already installed the transponders on a segment of test road. Now, SINTEF hopes it can be installed on a longer stretch of highway for a more effective trial.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Oh this really pisses me off..... sure we NEED good design to stop needless injury and death from negligence.

But there was an autodesigner who noted the correlation between the \"Safer things are - the more careless people become\".

He also went onto say, \"The safest car is one without seat belts or doors, and a big steel spike coming out of the steering wheel that stops 6 inches from your face\".

Another man went onto say, that when he was a kid, driving back with his parents through the Blue Mountains (near Sydney Australia), the roads were winding goat tracks with up going cliffs on one side and bottomless drops on the other side.

He also said the amount of fatalities was astronomically low........

Now that the roads are sealed highways and people barrel along 24 hours a day at great speed, the amount of accidents from careless driving has also increased astronomically.

I want to see the beating of careless driver in the town square.... using the rule of thumb (thickness of sticks)...

It\'s like people who cue across level crossings and then the outcry rises when they get more fatalities from being hit by trains...

That shits me too.....

Bring back public beatings..... the emphasis of action and consequences.

And these safety devices.... as one person noted.. removed the safety stickers and let the stupid people remove themselves from the gene pool.

Mr Stiffy

@ Mr Stiffy Of course the number of road accidents is way higher today than some years back, but the reason is of course mainly that there is more people, and we all travel very much more. I have no numbers to back this, but I strongly doubt that there are more accidents per person per distance now than at any time in motoring history. Also I\'m pretty sure that the level of physical damage is way less than anytime before, if adjusted by the previously mentioned factors. This I think is valid even if not considering the higher speeds nowadays.

Also I have a hard time finding a purpose in bringing back public beatings. That kind of institution requires institutions I do not think we want in any reasonably sivilized country. I see no reason to believe the practice would teach the offenders much either, apart from giving them an insight in how the public gets pleasure from revenge and sadism. After such a public beating, I personally would feel like severely beating up every single one of the onwatchers...

Finally though, I do think I agree with you on the topic of stupid people and letting them remove themselves from the gene pool. I think anybody needs to understand that being alive implies a serious risk of dying... Children needs protection from dangers they cannot understand properly. But if grownups need warnings on their coffee cups, let then get burned! I don\'t think anyone that stupid can read the warning anyway.

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