(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.
The UTSA Women’s Studies Institute and Women’s Studies Program will feature film screenings, provide lectures and book readings that promote diversity and focus on achieving social justice and women’s empowerment.Various locations, Main, Downtown and Hemisfair Campuses
The exhibition is a juried competition featuring recent work by UTSA undergraduate and graduate students. The selected works represent the full range of materials, methods, and techniques, ranging from traditional processes to contemporary digital photography and video.Arts Building Main Art Gallery (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
Amin Qutub, UTSA associate professor of biomedical engineering, will introduce the latest advances in science and technology illustrating how daily behaviors influence the ability of our brain cells to repair and regenerate, enabling a future that optimizes brain health.McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels, San Antonio
UTSA faculty and staff are encouraged to share thoughts, experiences and ideas on inclusive excellence at UTSA.Student Union Anaqua Room (SU 2.03.08), Main Campus
March Into Your Major is an event for students who are unsure of their major, have chosen a major but are not sure it’s the right fit for them or students who are confident of their choice of major but are unsure of what careers they can actually pursue with their major.Convocation Center, Main Campus
As part of UTSA's 50th Anniversary celebration, Fred Schneider, computer science professor at Cornell University, will speak on Impediments to Incentivizing Cyber-security Investment." The lecture is free and open to the public.Biosciences Building Loeffler Room (BSB 3.03.22), Main Campus
Rowdy’s Roadshow will take place in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. Roadshow events offer opportunities to meet other students, faculty and staff, sign up for Orientation and get Rowdy Ready.Cities across Texas
A former police officer, criminal justice professor Robert Rico will give an encore of his Pizza & Research presentation, Restorative Justice: A Relational Approach to Civic Discourse. Pizza will be served will supplies last.John Peace Library North Commons, Second Floor, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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