A new Finnish invention for detecting black ice, launched last year, has been taken into use. A recently started two-year project by EEE Innovations Oy, Finnish Transport Agency and Trafi is harnessing 1000 heavy traffic vehicles into a data collecting system for enhancing traffic safety. The number includes buses and trucks to produce real-time slipperiness data through software installed in them, for the benefit of drivers, operators and other road users. The method, developed in cooperation with VTT, allows for slippery road conditions to be detected accurately and even in real time, far more extensively than by methods currently in use.
— We offer the slipperiness data collected by the vehicles to be used by all parties in the project. In addition to that, also other information can be derived from the vehicles through the system, such as location and temperature data and information on sudden braking situations, says Jarmo Leino of EEE Innovations Oy, the company that developed the service. — We welcome all interested transport operators to join the project, there is room still, Leino continues.
The patented technology is initially offered for heavy traffic, but the invention can be applied for private vehicles as well in the future.
— The software that is now being implemented can also guide drivers to drive more economically. In addition to the driver of the vehicle, a warning of slipperiness detected can be forwarded in real time to the whole fleet and other operators, for example through map applications. The data can be be utilized for other purposes as well, such as targeting road maintenance measures, states Raine Hautala, principal scientist at VTT.
Joining the system does not in most cases require installing any additional equipment, as it can be implemented by a software update to read the data from the CAN-bus of the vehicle's computer. The driver guidance system can be installed as part of the software already existing in the vehicle, or it can be installed as a separate entity, including both the driver guidance and slipperiness detection systems.
— The project enables slipperiness data to be observed far more extensively than before. Benefits can be expected for road users as well as for road maintenance operators, says Otto Kärki, maintenance and digitalization expert at Liikennevirasto, Finnish Transport Agency.
— Real-time slipperiness data is considered a prerequisite for automatic driving to become more common in winter conditions in a larger scale. The solution tested in the project could provide a solution to this problem, says Eetu Pilli-Sihvola, a leading expert at Trafi.
The invention originates from VTT's heavy traffic research projects, and it has been piloted in one EU-level project, as well as in Finland. The pilot projects indicate considerable savings in fuel costs, in addition to improved traffic safety.