Mid Year Update

Chances are, if you read or hear local traffic information while in your car, it comes from TrafficCast International.  TrafficCast – that’s us! – is a North American leader in travel-time forecasting and traffic information, developing technology, applications and content based on advanced digital traffic information, and we have the data to prove we’re out in front.  

As of mid-year 2018, you’ll find 80% of top U.S auto OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) displaying TrafficCast data. And 1.5 Billion is the number of data points the information TrafficCast serves up every day. Pair that with incident data from 250+ sources and anonymous device data from the Company’s 12,000+ IoT device deployments, and it means that updated travel information from various sources are delivered from TrafficCast every 60 seconds.

BlueTOAD Spectra and BlueArgus are surging in nationwide placement and use as well. BlueTOAD is the most advanced traffic-monitoring system on the market, directly measuring travel times using cost-effective, non-intrusive roadside technology. BlueTOAD Spectra detects anonymous Bluetooth signals broadcast from mobile devices to determine accurate travel times and speeds Presently, BlueTOAD technology, delivering analytics to assist traffic management and predict future traffic patterns on roads and at events, is at work throughout the US. coast to coast, some 4,400 devices have been installed by federal, state and municipal transportation and engineering departments and large event planners. And with new offices opening to serve BlueTOAD clients regionally, TrafficCast expects the growth seen at mid-2018 to continue.  

#traffic #driving #travel #BlueTOAD #roadsafety #solutions #TrafficCast

Ground Penetrating Radar: Keeping Autonomous Cars on Track No Matter the Weather

The same technology that helps the military detect landmines could soon help autonomous vehicles (AVs) stay in their lane during poor driving conditions. Currently AVs rely on radar, LiDar sensors, and cameras to see their surroundings. But when visibility is low due to inclement weather, time of day, or if road markings are unclear, these systems run into trouble. This is where ground-penetrating radar (GPR) steps in.

Link&Go_Konzeptfahrzeug

Created by researchers at MIT and first put to use by US Armed Forces in Afghanistan in 2013, GPR produces a map of what lies beneath a road by way of electromagnetic pulses. These pulses reach 10 feet into the Earth and reflect off dirt, rocks, pipes, etc. to produce a map of the underground road composition. Comparing this imagery to surrounding subterranean geology tells a vehicle where the road is, even if it can’t be seen by a driver. This mapping has been shown to be accurate within a few centimeters even at highway speeds at night during a snowstorm.

The company leading the development of GPR for the driverless world is a startup called WaveSense. Their slogan “When other sensors go blind, WaveSense keeps you safe.” denotes their aim to fill the gap left by current optical sensor systems. So it’s not to say that LiDar, radar, and camera systems won’t have their place in the future of autonomy, just that GPR will help AVs paint a fuller picture of the world around (and beneath) them.

The automotive industry is on the edge of profound transformations and the reliability of driverless navigation remains the main hurdle left to clear for AVs to meet performance standards and gain public trust. No doubt GPR will be a major factor in making the leap.

Below is a video demonstrating GPR:

 

Employee Spotlight: Matthew Harris

Matt joined our team of dedicated traffic operators back in 2015. When he got his start, our East Coast operations were headquartered in a tiny building in the suburbs of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Today they work out of an expansive coworking office called The Mill in downtown Wilmington, Delaware.
“It’s crazy to see how much the company has evolved in just a few years of me being here. And not just in terms of clients and coverage, but our team and workspace too. Seeing as how much the sophistication and impact of our work has grown, it’s cool to see that reflected in our environment. I really like our new space here in Delaware.”
Matt keeps watch over our southern markets–Virginia, Atlanta, Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas. After spending most of his time here at TrafficCast watching these markets, he has gained a rich understanding of the region’s roadways and traffic patterns.
But even with his high level of intuition and know-how, Matt says he couldn’t do it alone. The team around him is a huge factor in his efficacy (as it is with all our operators). In fact, when asked what he enjoyed most about his day-to-day here there was little hesitation.
“Our team. I like the work, of course. It’s engaging and I know it’s helping people everyday. But I really enjoy the team I work with. We have a good time, we collaborate well and we’re always helping each other produce the most accurate info. Teamwork is crucial in this.”
When he’s not at work, Matt likes to spend his time making music, going out with friends, or just relaxing at home with his girlfriend, Sam, and their two cats, Dexter and Yuna.
matt spotlight pic

Connected Cars: What Can We Expect?

The term “connected cars” is one you’ll often hear alongside the latest advancements in the auto industry–like driverless cars. But the concept isn’t actually all that new. The first iteration of a connected car hit the market back in 1996 with the introduction of OnStar. Cell phones of the time weren’t as reliable or prevalent as they are today, so OnStar gave drivers in a pinch a way to communicate with a call center with reliability. Two decades later and cell phones are far away from what they used to be–and so are connected cars. Today, having your vehicle connected to bluetooth and GPS has become standard. In an age of rapid advancement, we quickly become accustomed, even jaded, to the kind of tech that would raise eyebrows just a few years ago. But if we zoom our perspective out a bit, the headway made in just 20 years is nothing short of astounding. And the technologies to define the next phase of connected cars promise to be even more impressive and impactful.

Here are a few of the most talked about technologies currently in development:

Vehicle-to-Vehicle

Vehicles that communicate with one another will be able to share data of travel speeds, construction, road hazards, and more. Plus, getting “cut-off” by other drivers will be a thing of the past since you’d know what they to you plan to do before they do it. This ought to ease driver tension while also reducing congestion and accidents by preventing unpredictable and frustrating stop-and-go situations.

Vehicle-to-Infrastructure

Many experts believe that all new vehicles will be equipped with vehicle-to-infrastructure capability as early as 2023. This would allow your car to communicate with things like traffic signals, parking meters, and gas pumps to name a few. You could find parking quickly and conduct transactions without leaving your car. You’d also kiss waiting at red lights with no other cars in sight goodbye.

Vehicle-to-Brain

You read that right. While this certainly won’t be of interest to some drivers, vehicle-to-brain technology will have practical applications. Communication will be delivered by way of a driver-worn headset fitted with electrodes. This would allow your vehicle to alert you of abrupt lane changes or sound off an alert when it detects you getting drowsy.

BlueTOAD and Coachella – Strange Bedfellows?

Not so strange at all, when you consider that some 100,000 fans attend the music festival during  each day of the two weekend event, and most of those arrive in a motor vehicle. Translation: TRAFFIC! Snarling traffic on I-10 and state roads as attendees arrive, producing another travel challenge – PARKING! What’s a concert organizer to do?

This year, Coachella did a smart thing. It partnered with TrafficCast International, installing  a dozen temporary BlueTOAD Spectra devices which allowed festival organizers to see traffic patterns during different times of the day, and thus anticipate and plan traffic management accordingly.

Here’s from BlueTOAD headquarters: 

Although the Coachella music festival has been around for almost twenty years, there has been very little data available for traffic management planning prior to and during the festival. A traffic management strategy is much more effective when coordinators have an idea of drivers’ preferred routes, peak hours, travel times and speeds.

For 2018, the city of Indio, in partnership with the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), Advantec Consulting and TrafficCast International, proposed using TrafficCast’s BlueTOAD Spectra travel-time solution to address that lack.

Coachella aimed to collect accurate travel-time data and arterial speeds on three (3) of the major roadways leading to the concert grounds from Interstate 10 – the main access freeway in Coachella Valley. Employing BlueTOAD’s capability to collect and predict traffic patterns, Indio Traffic Engineering, Indio Police Department and the concert promoter were not only able to manage traffic approaching the festival better than in previous years, but also offer traffic information to the driving public. 

Collected by BlueTOAD Spectra devices, comprehensive travel time data was made available to Indio’s traffic management team via the real-time, web-based reporting software, BlueARGUS, enabling planners to create comparison reports and conduct origin-destination studies. This helped identify peak hours and preferred routes to the venue as well as compare route speeds and travel time, day to day and even weekend to weekend.

 

Other valuable data was also made available, such as that concert attendees stayed an average 38 hours over the weekend.

In addition to providing this data, TrafficCast International worked behind the scenes creating a mobile app via its existing TrafficCarma app. Partnering with iHeart Media, the app, known as TotalTraffic, was promoted on iHeart’s many stations encouraging concert goers to download the app or simply visit CoachellaTraffic.com. There, users selected their preferred routes and received travel time and speed information.

 

The end results? Far greater visibility on current traffic conditions and an amazing amount of data to reference for any strategy changes during the 2018 festival as well as consideration for future festivals. The most rewarding aspect of the project is perhaps the availability of useful information to the driving public. We all like choices. After all, safe and efficient roadways is what successful traffic management is all about, and TrafficCast, with BlueTOAD Spectra and BlueARGUS, is happy to contribute to that success. 

“Improve the Commute” Winners

Birds chirping as you drive past a local park; a smart alarm that lovingly reminds you to get going, you’re going to be late, and a student-focused carpool app were only a few of the innovations submitted to Future of the Commute: TrafficCast Design Challenge. Winners were announced in Philadelphia last month, and Technically Philly covered it. Who won the cash awards? Read here:

https://technical.ly/philly/2018/07/30/we-asked-you-to-hack-the-commute-and-you-did-not-disappoint/