A road surface temperature sensor developed at the University of Birmingham, which provides real-time data on road surface conditions, is set for rapid adoption on the UK’s road and motorway network following a national award at the Highways UK 2017 Intelligent Infrastructure Challenge. Lee Chapman, Professor of Climate Resilience at the University won the national award for a low-cost, non-invasive and self-contained road surface temperature sensor which remotely senses road surface temperature using infrared themometry. The Wintersense sensors are Internet of Things enabled, and use a new generation of low power communications to provide a real-time measurement of road surface temperature, that will be used to direct gritting lorries to priority areas. The judging panel included representatives from Highways England, Transport Scotland, England’s Economic Heartland and Transport for the North (TfN). The judges felt that deploying this type of sensor network could have an immediate impact on their ability to better control gritting routines in winter. Throughout the winter months, highways maintenance companies dispatch fleets of gritting lorries to prevent or mitigate the impact of black ice formation on motorways and A roads. In harsh winters, the routing of gritting lorries has to be prioritised to ensure optimal road safety. The University of Birmingham is an institution that has a long history of research into winter road sensing and forecasting. Lee Chapman commented: “The key issue in this prioritisation is having good spatial resolution on observation of road surface conditions. Our sensors are an order of magnitude cheaper than existing solutions, and light enough to be mounted on any lamp post, gantry or road sign, which means a dense network of sensors can be rapidly deployed along a road network to provide a highly granular picture of road surface conditions.” The Wintersense sensors are part of a portfolio of products that provide decision-making tools to empower transport managers in the road maintenance and rail industries.
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