Norwegian highways authority tests new connected road weather information system

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The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA – Norska Statens Vegvesen) is piloting a new connected vehicle road weather information system developed by two Swedish companies, as the agency looks toward a future of automated vehicles.

The NPRA is trialling Road Status Information (RSI), a connected software to measure and predict road grip that has been developed by Klimator, a climate technology startup from the University of Gothenburg, and automotive software supplier, NIRA Dynamics. The RSI software uses advanced algorithms to combine data from connected vehicles with information from roadside weather stations (RWIS) and weather forecasts. The system effectively turns connected vehicles into rolling weather stations that transmit various types of data to the platform, including current road friction, which is the key to determine local road grip.

The vehicles are connected via NIRA-developed OBD-dongles (onboard diagnostics) and register current position, ambient temperature, wiper activity and road friction. It takes only a few minutes to equip a vehicle and shortly after, the data is continuously available on the RSI-server. The RSI software determines road grip conditions in real time with high precision, and creates accurate 12-hour forecasts. The system enables increased safety on wintery roads, and can contribute toward significant environmental benefits and cost savings through the more efficient use of winter service resources, such as road salt consumption and snow plow deployment. The system is already in use by several Swedish winter services, and may also be used by the police, fire brigade or logistic companies. The Norwegian project started in January in Tromsö and there is already much interest in the new technology, with more than 300 private car owners registering their vehicles to participate.

“This technology is a quantum leap and is overdue in making use of new opportunities to meet road users’ expectations. We have tested the new technology and are confident that RSI is the best performing solution,” explained Torgeir Vaa from the NPRA. “We had not been expecting such a response. The plan was to have only about 50 OBD units for private volunteers, but we are very happy about this level of acceptance. The remaining OBD-dongles will be fitted into taxis, rental cars and delivery vehicles with varying use patterns; we expect very interesting winter months.”

Gustav Kristiansson, manager of new technologies at NIRA Dynamics, added, “We were inspired by our successful tire pressure monitoring system, which is installed in more than 40 million vehicles around the world. A few years from now, OBD-dongles will be replaced by small software modules standard-fitted into connected vehicles.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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