As part of its long-term preparations for the widespread use of autonomous vehicles (AVs), the operator of the 407 Express Toll Route (407 ETR), in partnership with 3M Canada, has started testing the use of 3M’s high-visibility pavement marking tapes optimized for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in the Greater Toronto Area.
The initiative is part of the 407 ETR Living Labs program of innovation, promoting safety and next generation transportation, with the trials designed to ensure new technologies are implemented safely and effectively. White painted markings have traditionally helped delineate the road surface to help drivers stay in their lane. The new high-viz tape lane marking technology being put onto the road by 407 ETR will now help ensure both humans and machines can accurately judge their position on the pavement. The previous generation of lane markings are on the road eastbound from Highway 427, with some being traditional white paint and the rest being contrast tape markings.
The retro-reflective high contrast tape markings are being tested on 1.5 miles (2.5km) of lanes eastbound, east of the Humber River to Weston Road, on both sides of ‘lane 2 (second lane from left in the image). Half of the trial distance has the first generation 7 inches (18cm) wide contrast tape, and the remainder has the next generation 10 inches (25.5cm) wide contrast tape; the first such installation in Canada. Both are wet reflective contrast tape; the 10-inch version having been designed specifically to work better with ADAS and autonomous vehicles. The lane markings performed well during the winter and during the rainy spring period experienced earlier this year.
3M’s ADAS-optimized Contrast Tape delivers a unique contrast between black and white and allows for improved detection, especially on a low contrast pavement such as concrete. The new road markings are designed to work with the way that machines ‘see’ and read infrastructure, as well as being readable to humans. The new lane markings offer four main benefits to 407 ETR:
- wet retroreflectivity – remains bright and visible even in wet weather;
- color contrast – black markings edging white provide improved lane definition, essential on low contrast pavement;
- durability – long lasting performance due to the science of microcrystalline ceramic beads and inlay into the pavement;
- advancement – providing a road of the future by enabling the use of ADAS.
The installation, by Total Traffic Services Inc., was done literally overnight and had the highway ready for the morning commute.
“Our history with 3M Canada and their ability to innovate gives us confidence in utilizing their products on our roadway,” said Craig White, 407 ETR’s VP of highway and tolling operations. “With success and support using 3M products in the past, the pilot project using 3M Connected Roads Contrast Tape made sense. It’s important we remain ahead of the game when it comes to autonomous vehicles for the safety of drivers and passengers alike.”
Jonathan Cliffen, Connected Roads lead at 3M Canada, said, “Working with the 407 ETR allows us to prepare and optimize roadways for ADAS of today and emerging autonomous vehicle technology. Validating our products in our unique Canadian climate helps us bring new technology to road-users and keep our roadways safe for all drivers.”