On Friday I attended the Oregon Transportation Summit.
Being a geek, I sat in on the gadget session. One of the more interesting areas was how to detect vehicles at intersections. The traditional technology is the “loop”, a wire embedded in the pavement that generates a magnetic field that can detect the metal in a vehicle (including bicycles). Alternatives on display, all generally aimed at removing the requirement for wires in the pavement included:
- Detection by video
- A small, wireless, battery-operated cube (about 1.5 inches) that used the same magnetic approach as a loop, but without the wiring. It also had the interesting ability to generate a “magnetic signature” for each vehicle so you could measure vehicle progress across multiple intersections to measure arterial traffic speeds (a measure of congestion).
- Detection by radar
The common factor for all of these was that they were “IP-based” (i.e., Internet Protocol – they could all talk back to your central control center of the Internet).
There was also an internet-controllable street light controller, so you could dim or turn off streetlights from the control center (the standard technology for street lighting just uses a dumb photocell).