(March 6, 2019) -- It’s dark on the backroad as a motorist speeds toward the intersection. Up ahead, the stop sign blends with the night and in seconds a deadly crash occurs. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than half of all roadway fatalities occur on rural roads. Now engineers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) are building and testing a low-cost, self-powered thermal system that will detect vehicles, improve the visibility of stop signs and prevent deaths.
“Stop signs on rural roads are difficult to notice, and this leads to dangerous accidents,” said Ayetullah Biten, a doctoral candidate in the UTSA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Rural roads account for 70 percent of the nation’s byways and the location for 54 percent of all fatalities, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Without access to a power supply, they are more likely than other roads to lack signals and active traffic signage.
To improve driver safety, Sara Ahmed and Samer Dessouky, professors in the UTSA College of Engineering, created a low-cost, self-powered intersection detection and warning system to alert rural motorists about potential dangers. The next-generation stop sign uses a multi-pixel passive infrared sensor that detects a vehicle as it approaches an intersection. Once the vehicle is within the sensing range, a signal beacon triggers the stop sign’s flashing system.
“The sensor observes thermal signatures and processes them to detect passing vehicles,” said Zachary Balcar, a master’s student in the UTSA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “It distinguishes the vehicle’s direction of travel, estimates the velocity of its thermal signature and determines the classification of the vehicle.”
Overall, the smart system has a 90 percent vehicle detection rate and a vehicle classification accuracy of 72 percent. Compared to current traffic sensing technologies in urban areas such as magnetic loop inductors, video image processors and microwave radar, the new system consumes less power and offers better accuracy. The new technology is also much less expensive to produce. Current safety systems can cost as much as $5,000. UTSA’s detection promises to be a fraction of the price at $60 to $100 per unit.
“Our off-roadway system can be installed on urban or rural roads completely independent of the utility power grid, because it is powered by small solar panels and functions in all weather conditions,” said Ahmed.
>> Learn more about the low-powered sensing system.
The low-power rural intersection detection and warning system was developed with support from the Connect program, a collaborative research program that is co-funded by UTSA and Southwest Research Institute.
The project team has filed an invention disclosure for the system, which was recently recognized nationally by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, and expects to adapt the technology to pedestrian detection, for border security and for vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.
Learn more about UTSA’s Electrical and Computer Engineering innovations.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
Emerging artists work in the full range of traditional methods and materials as well as in interdisciplinary and new media. Themes range from social and cultural critique to investigations that are challenging and exquisite explorations in creative form and image.UTSA Art Gallery, Arts Building, Main Campus
Juan Vallejo’s art conveys his experience as a childhood migrant worker. Opening reception: Thurs, Dec. 5, 6–9 p.m. Free and open to the public.UTSA Terminal 136, Blue Star Arts Complex, 136 Blue St., San Antonio
Portions of Cook Road will be closed for construction related to the new Student Success Center project and Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk upgrades.Cook Road, Main Campus
Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music and peace. A remarkable true experience, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it. UTSA partners with The Public Theater for this event. Contact the theater at (210) 458-3288 for scheduling requests.Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus
Forty-six modular units will be delivered to Main Campus as part of the new Student Success Center project. The units will enter campus at Brennan Avenue and will travel to their final destination, south of the North Paseo Building and Graduate School and Research Building via Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road and Devine Avenue.Brennan Avenue, Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road, Devine Avenue, Main Campus
Enjoy two classic holiday performances. Children’s Ballet of San Antonio will present two of The Nutcracker. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church will perform a traditional Pastorela play, a morality tale about shepherds going to Bethlehem and the snares the devil uses to dissuade them. Performances are included with regular ITC admission.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chavez Blvd., San Antonio
Celebrating graduating students from the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. Guest speaker: Susan Pape '86, chairman of the San Antonio Express-News.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
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