Good Thinking

Self-powered smart stop sign lights up to alert rural drivers

Self-powered smart stop sign l...
In tests conducted so far, the system has demonstrated a vehicle-detection accuracy rate of 90 percent
In tests conducted so far, the system has demonstrated a vehicle-detection accuracy rate of 90 percent
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In tests conducted so far, the system has demonstrated a vehicle-detection accuracy rate of 90 percent
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In tests conducted so far, the system has demonstrated a vehicle-detection accuracy rate of 90 percent

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 54 percent of all US traffic fatalities occur on rural roads. Many of those accidents are in turn caused by drivers not seeing stop signs. New technology could help, by illuminating flashing lights on those signs in response to approaching vehicles.

Developed by a team led by professors Sara Ahmed and Samer Dessouky, from The University of Texas at San Antonio, the system is powered by an integrated solar panel. This allows it to run completely off-grid.

As a vehicle approaches a stop sign that's been equipped with the technology, a multi-pixel passive infrared sensor detects the trajectory and velocity of that vehicle's thermal signature. The sensor can also ascertain what sort of vehicle it is.

Based on that data, a red light above the sign starts flashing to alert the driver – it does so soon enough to give them time to safely stop, based on their current velocity.

In tests conducted so far, the system has demonstrated a vehicle-detection accuracy rate of 90 percent, which is actually better than that of existing car-detection technologies such as magnetic loop inductors, video image processors and microwave radar. Additionally, the U Texas setup requires less power, and should be cheaper to manufacture – whereas conventional safety systems reportedly cost up to US$5,000 a pop, the new one could sell for as little as $60 to $100 per unit.

Source: The University of Texas at San Antonio

4 comments
SaysMe
It would be nice if the sign actually told when the car could go through the stop sign after the vehicle stopped. Some cops have different space-time issues, giving out tickets for any reason!
guzmanchinky
This will save lives. It still boggles my mind that over 100 people die every day in the US in crashes.
Aross
A better solution can be found in Europe and many countries around the world. Round-a-bouts are the answer. They slow drivers down at intersections but do not stop them if the road is clear. The constant stopping and starting we encounter in the US and Canada with stop signs and traffic lights is a major contributor to pollution, traffic jams and driver frustration. If there is an accident it is most likely to be a glancing blow rather than a solid T-bone thereby reducing injury and fatality. If there had been a traffic circle at the site of the Humboldt Bronco's bus accident in Saskatchewan I doubt if there would have been the number of sever injuries that occurred much less an accident at all. Adding rumble strips before the intersection would have helped even more.
JDC1
We have a similar stop sign at a 4 way here in town, with no auto detect. It has a solar panel, battery and flashes LED's all around the stop sign all the time. VERY distinctive and works well. Would love to see every stop sign set up like that (but it is one of those $5k ones so too expensive). Grand Cayman has pedestrian crossings on a main road that when the pedestrian presses the button for crossing, when the "walk" signal on the post illuminates, yellow strobe lights activate in the cross walk. Also very effective...virtually impossible for a driver to say "I didn't see someone in the crosswalk...because all the reflectors are strobing on both sides of the walk. Very safe to cross even main roads.