Tech & Traffic: Making hilly roads safer

IIT Mandi develops smart road monitoring system to prevent accidents, enhance traffic management

The developed system can also be used for vehicle counts and its advanced versions will be able to detect the load of the vehicle.

Students and faculty innovators from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi have developed a smart road monitoring system to prevent accidents caused at sharp/ blind turns, causing fatalities and injuries and enhance traffic management. With a surge in traffic, manual interface to control and prevent road accidents becomes a challenge, especially in the hilly terrains.

To address this, Kala Venkata Uday, assistant professor, School of Engineering, IIT Mandi, along with his team of B.Tech. students from the 2016-20 batch, have developed a monitoring system that can be used for speed detection, vehicle counts, enhanced traffic control and road usage, by employing the Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems(MEMS) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

The developed system comprises two layers of detection units on each side of a turn in the road and two signalling units to alert the drivers. When a vehicle passes through the two consecutive layers of detection units, the sensing system detects the speed, direction and type of vehicle (two/ four/ multiple wheels). The detected direction confirms if the vehicle is advancing towards the turn, and a corresponding signal (light/ sound/ barrier) is displayed on the other side to alert the drivers of an oncoming vehicle. If the vehicle moves away from the curve, no signal is displayed. The signals are decided based on the speed, direction, gradient of slope and type of vehicle.

The developed system can also be used for vehicle counts and its advanced versions will be able to detect the load of the vehicle. This data can be used for enhanced traffic management, road use, traffic flow on single line tunnels and restricted areas by employing AI and ML tools. The prediction on traffic jams, increased flows and diversion alerts can also be generated after sufficient data collection. Being mechanical in nature, the developed system can work in any weather condition and the data can be encrypted and shared with stakeholders. “Though existing technologies are effective, their effectiveness drastically is affected during adverse weather conditions, that is where our system is robust,” added Uday.

At a prototype development stage, the system costs less than Rs 20,000 excluding the alerting units per curve. However, the innovators are currently working on the commercial aspects and trying to bring down the overall product cost, and exploring using solar energy to run it.

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