New tech could display traffic signs inside vehicles

Written by PTI | Washington | Updated: Aug 11 2014, 23:49pm hrs
A new technology may allow a dashboard screen inside the car to display traffic signs and alert the driver of what actions to take.

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute are in the early stages of a novel idea to move stop and yield signs, among other posted traffic, from the side of the road into the car itself.

A dashboard screen will automatically alert the driver of what actions to take, if any. If no other car is present at the intersection, the will driver would be allowed to pass through and go on, researchers said.

"The idea is there would be no physical stop or yield signs on the side of the road, but they would be inside the vehicle," said Alexandria Noble of Newark, Delaware, a master's student with the Virginia Tech Charles E Via Jr Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Noble, who is also working with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, is spearheading the proof of concept adaptive stop-yield study with funding from the US Department of Transportation.

Noble is working under direction of her adviser and project manager, Thomas A Dingus, the institute's director and an endowed professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech.

"While a relatively new area in the transportation realm, adaptive stop/yield signs have the potential to be a long-term solution for not only minimising traffic problems experienced on increasingly congested roadways, they may also help mitigate negative environmental impacts," Dingus said.

Researchers conducted a 17-week closed experiment at the Virginia Smart Road which involved dozens of local test participants, aged 18-25 and then older than 50.

The participants were in cars outfitted with small GPS-like dashboard screens that would alert the driver with a flashing display to either stop or yield, and proceed through the intersection.

Additional cars at intersections during the tests were driven by institute researchers trained to safely interact with the participant driving test vehicles.

Test subjects were filmed by cameras set up inside the institute-provided test vehicle, capturing images of the motorist's upper body, line of sight, the dashboard, and the vehicle itself.

"This study was set up to take place in a future where all static traffic control infrastructure, such as stop signs and yield signs, are no longer needed, and you have an adaptable in-vehicle display telling you when you need to stop and when a stop is unnecessary," said Noble.

"The deployment of this technology in the real world would involve a whole re-working of the transportation system and is not likely to be deployed in the near future.

"However, this study will be useful in developing future connected-vehicle applications in a general sense and demonstrates that this is possible and how well it is received by naive drivers with minimal training on the subject," Noble added.