Tuesday, August 16

My car helps maintain the roads: this is how Honda’s new pilot program wants to contribute to safer roads

Honda believes that cars can help preserve the roads. And to prove it, he is taking inspiration from a small town in the United States: Dublin, a city located on the outskirts of Columbus, the capital of Ohio. Throughout the year your neighbors see how their thermometers lurch from almost 30º C, which is reached in the warmest months of the summer, to -5º C, which can touch in January, the coldest time. That, in addition to spacious cabinets and a good range of options, forces them to keep an eye on the roads. As is the case on the highways and highways of many other cities and countries, including Spain, the pronounced thermal differences require careful and constant maintenance of the public road network.

Keeping the streets of Dublin and the rest of the state in good condition is basically a responsibility of the Ohio Department of Transportation (DOT), but its benefits are shared by all: authorities, of course; but also users and even automotive companies, especially those that manufacture vehicles with driving assistance They monitor data from their environment on the roads. From that premise, Honda engineers have posed a question: can a car contribute to better road maintenance?

Vehicles that read (actively) the roads

While waiting for the results that show its real scope, the Japanese multinational finalizes details to launch a pilot program that seeks precisely that objective: help DOT tune Ohio’s streets, especially its horizontal signage. The Tokyo-based company just announced a groundbreaking initiative which seeks, in his own words, “to help maintain the roads in a more efficient and timely manner.” “The system monitors lane markings and visually classifies lines from ‘ideal’ to ‘needs repair.’

The system —developed by Honda Research Institute USA, Inc.— proposes that it is the vehicles themselves that can assess the condition of road lines using cameras, sensors and the coordinates of your GPS system. The information, collected “in real time” would be shared with the authorities in charge of conservation. For now, the pilot program will start in a matter of months, in early 2022, with a small sample. As detailed by Popular Science, will debut with two adapted vehicles that will focus on the 18 miles – about 28.4 kilometers – that are between Dublin and Marysville on Route 33.

“The Honda Research Institute is also exploring how connected vehicles can access anonymous data to adjust Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) perception settings of Honda and Acura and, if necessary, warn drivers if lane markings are discolored or need repair, “the company says in the statement announcing the program. “High-precision, real-time road data captured from connected vehicles has the potential to improve the process of identifying, reporting and faster repair of hazardous road conditions.”

Honda Road Condition Monitoring System

By detecting the lane markings to the left and right of the vehicle, the system identifies their characteristics and assigns them a category based on their state of conservation. If the signals are “ideal” they are attributed green and if they are “good”, yellow; in case they are not appreciated, they are associated with gray and when they require repair, red is chosen. The vehicle captures the information, including longitude and latitude coordinates, images and videos, and then transmits the information anonymously to “a secure platform for analysis.”

“Operators can access this platform to identify the location, type and severity of the road condition and information on the danger, in addition to obtaining a still image and a video ”, abounds from the multinational, which states that its researchers are studying and extending the system to monitor other parameters of the roads.

The program seeks to improve road safety, but also more efficient and better planned maintenance. “To our knowledge, the lane lines are painted regularly; They have a fixed schedule, but sometimes they don’t need to be repainted or may need to be done due to heavy snowfall. They don’t have a very effective way of controlling when painting is required, ”says Sue Bai, chief engineer at the Honda Reserach Institute, located in Detroit, Michigan. speaking to Popular Science.

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Making road markings more legible would also facilitate the work of functionalities that already include some vehicles of the Japanese multinational, like Honda Sensing, which incorporates Blind Spot Warning (BSI), cross traffic warning systems, traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed limiter, impact prevention and mitigation or help to stay on the road. Something similar happens with AcuraWatch, driving assistance technologies applied by Acura, the luxury brand of the Japanese manufacturer.

“That is our goal, to start the research and the pilot program, to mature the technology and, when it is ready, We would certainly like that to be part of Honda’s products in the future.”, Bai recognizes Popular Science. The goal: to achieve cars that can actively help to maintain the roads themselves and leave behind the times when vehicles were simple passive agents that were limited to circulating on highways or highways.

Cover image | Jan Mosimann DSC_9867 (Flickr)


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