The INROADS FP7 project led by TRL with seven European partners has developed intelligent road studs (also known as cats eyes) containing LED lighting, sensors and communication technologies, which will enable enhanced traffic management and road user information, representing a major advance over the existing retroreflective studs. During the development of the studs, several designs and technologies were considered for vehicle detection, with low power consumption and wireless communication as essential requirements to meet.
For the final validation tests, some INROADS studs were installed in a closed test track at CIDAUT facilities. The aim of these tests was to validate their global operation and achieve some preliminary results and guidelines in relation to the installation of the studs and their effect and benefits on night driving. Thus, a thorough photometric study was carried, analyzing visibility and glare of the LED studs in use. Besides, drivers’ feelings and behavior have been evaluated by CIDAUT human factors team. An instrumented vehicle has also been used to record drivers’ speed and trajectory in order to compare the data with and without the studs.
The result: a sensor network consisting of embedded LED studs able to detect passing vehicles and communicate with each other and with a central control in order to light your way as you drive along, highlighting the lane delineation and enhancing visibility without glare. So far, tests have demonstrated a very positive effect on night driving, increasing comfort, perceived safety and easiness of driving. Also, it has been proved that they cause no glare at all, while they have a greater conspicuity and visibility compared to standard retroreflective studs. This implies a significant safety benefit, particularly on unlit roads. In such situations, they offer an extremely attractive and cost effective solution to traditional street lighting, in that they offer many of the safety benefits, but with a much lower capital and operational cost.
And in case you are worrying about energy and power consumption, there is no need to: they are also able to harvest renewable energy from their environment thanks to some integrated solar photovoltaic panels. Thus, not only are these studs intelligent, but also energetically self-sufficient.
So after three years of hard work of all seven partners involved, we are proud to present the first intelligent self-powered LED studs. Now we can say that we have enlightened a little the way to intelligent roads. Future is drawing nearer.