FCD road weather pilot. The experiment with moving road weather observation system.

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The aim of the FCD road weather pilot was to test the possibility of utilizing ABS and electrical stability control systems for slipperiness detection. Furthermore, the objective was to test a user interface suitable for the method and to gather feedback from the end users on this type of service. Finally, the aim was to plan and implement competitive tendering of the system, depending on how effective it proved to be.

During the first winter of research 2012–2013, a fleet of about 150 vehicles operating mostly in the Helsinki region was mobilized, and FCD vehicle devices were installed in these. The totally autonomic devices were able to read the CAN bus of the vehicles. In addition, the characteristics included a GPS device, a clock and properties for data transmission. Thus, the devices were able to transmit data on ABS and ESC system activations according to time and location.

The first version of the user interface was completed in winter 2012–2013. The map-based user interface gave real-time indications of where and when the ABS and ESC systems of the vehicles had been activated. The user interface enabled examinations of both group and individual observations (figure 1).

Figure 1. The user interface of FCD road weather pilot. On the left the menu, where you could choose e.g. the time window, winter maintenance class and vehicle type of the analysis.

When the system was up and running in early spring 2013, a group of potential end users was selected to test the system. Most of the ten test users were traffic operators or road weather duty officers. At the post-test interview, half of the test users found it extremely likely that they would have continued to use the service after the test period. The feedback can be considered very positive, bearing in mind that the system had not yet been completed during the test period.

The degree of accuracy of the slipperiness detection system has been studied by means of separate friction measurements in early spring 2013 and in the winters of 2013–2014 and 2014–2015. These measurements showed that the activation of the ABS systems correlates very well with the slipperiness. However, the problem with the ABS observations was that they were mostly obtained at low speeds in intersections, ie in situations when the brakes of the vehicle are normally used. There is hardly any slipperiness data based on ABS observations from longer road sections. The advantage of the ESC observations was that these were obtained from a wider area, but unfortunately mostly in acceleration situations. Since the slipperiness data obtained from the ABS and ESC observations on road sections at a steady speed could not be considered sufficient, the system will not be put out to tender.

Although the quality of this measurement method turned out to be insufficient, the achievements of the pilot are indisputable. The pilot enabled extensive testing of the functionality and effectiveness of modern mobile road weather monitoring in terms of producing, collecting and sharing the data up until the end use. As a result of the project, the Finnish Transport Agency obtained the specifications required for possible service procurement. Most importantly, the project managed to create a well-functioning measuring process and a user interface for examining the observations.

You can find the final report here. Report is mainly in Finnish, but there is a long 9-page English abstract in the end of the report.

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