Engineers at the University of Cincinnati are taking to the sky to improve traffic safety in one of the busiest driving states in America.
Gridlock is both a nuisance and a safety issue in Ohio, where a network of interstate highways connects six Midwestern states. Drivers in November last year logged 9.7 billion miles on Ohio roads, fifth most in the nation, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science assembled a team of experts in computer science and electrical, mechanical and aerospace engineering to help Ohio’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) to use drones to assist core business functions such as monitoring traffic, inspecting bridges and improving safety for drivers.
The university is equipping the state with a fleet of drones that can send live images and traffic data to transportation officials as part of a four-year, $2 million contract. The drones capture and transmit video and traffic data to UC computers using algorithms to count and sort traffic into 14 categories, from motorcycles to the heaviest big rigs.
“Drones are cool. But if you can’t do anything with the data, they’re pretty pointless,” said Fred Judson, director of programs for Ohio’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center. “So the new metrics we can derive from traffic monitoring will really help us.”
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