System warns drivers of icy roads

Jan. 23, 2013 at 3:40 PM

ESPOO, Finland, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Researchers in Finland say they're working on a system to automatically inform drivers if a road ahead is slippery with ice in winter conditions.

The technology will make driving on ice safer, scientists at the VTT Technical Research Center said, as vehicles are warned in advance of a road's actual slipperiness.

In the system developed by VTT, changes in road conditions are detected in real time, based on data collected by sensors mounted in a vehicle.

"The method entails estimating the difference in the speeds of the drive shaft and freely rotating axles in various driving situations, which enables deduction of the level of friction," researcher Kimmo Erkkila said.

The information is relayed to the driver before he or she has even noticed the change in road conditions, researchers said, and observations collected from all cars can be transmitted wirelessly to a background system, which maintains a real-time slipperiness map and generates a log of the road conditions.

For each car that joins the system, the background system can produce and transmit an individual data package on road conditions, they said.

So far the system has been tested only in heavy truck, but is compatible with other heavy vehicles and eventually could be fitted to cars, the researchers said.

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