A consortium of research and business partners has joined forces for a unique project (2018-2022) to improve road safety. In the project, car sensor data are used to generate real-time alerts for very local weather phenomena (e.g. poor visibility, hail) and for dangerous road conditions (e.g. slippery road, snow). The project, called Secure and Accurate Road Weather Services (SARWS), is funded by the participating companies and the Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship agency (Vlaio) of the Flemish Government. IDLab (an imec research group at the University of Antwerp) and Verhaert (an innovation and product development company) are the leading partners for the research and the development components respectively. They are assisted by partners Be-Mobile, Inuits, Belgium’s leading postal operator bpost and the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, each contributing to the development of the integrated solution with their own unique competences.
In the project set-up, 15 bpost vans are equipped with a so-called in-car smart sensor node (ICSSN) that is being jointly developed by Verhaert and imec. This ICSSN combines the data of the car with additional sensors mounted in or on the car. Together with imec, software supplier and IoT specialist Inuits will provide the infrastructure to realise the information flow during the car’s trajectory to the central data platform, where these data will be processed, based on distributed artificial intelligence techniques and other data processing methods.
Smart mobility expert Be-Mobile and imec are using machine learning algorithms to obtain useful weather information from the collected data. At imec, changes in vehicle dynamics and user behaviour in relation to weather conditions are studied. This knowledge can then be used to guide drivers towards safer traffic participation. In addition to increasing the safety of its own drivers, bpost is also investigating how it can exploit its fleet as a mobile sensing platform, as it is already doing for air quality measurements.
The very local weather information available in real time, will be used in various innovative applications. First of all, a clear impact can be expected in the field of road safety. Be-Mobile is a major player in Europe that creates the mobility solutions of today and tomorrow. Be-Mobile brings the interests of different actors in this field (road authorities, car manufacturers and road users) together. Be-Mobile will include the weather information in its existing services and in this way it will be able to share relevant information in real time with road users, road authorities and other stakeholders. Verhaert will use the data to develop smart applications with hyper-local and real-time weather forecasts for in-car services and smart mobility applications. Finally, the RMI will use the weather data to provide the existing road weather model with extra input. This will allow the RMI to validate and to improve these specialised models.
It is clear that every partner is indispensable in the project. It covers the entire chain starting from the sensory aspects in the car, the IoT aspects, the state-of-the-art data processing and intelligence, and ultimately the feedback loop to the user of the road infrastructure. Moreover, the SARWS project is part of a larger, international Celtic-Plus project of 27 partners in 7 countries with the same name. The kick-off of this international project took place in Paris on January 24 and 25, 2019.