Radios, Cars and Influencers

While many at the National Association of Broadcasters participants last week were focused on topics such as Esports; presentations like Beyond the Briefing Room: Tales from the White House Beat, and on new offerings like the just-introduced Influencer Series: Sports and Entertainment, TrafficCast executive Nick Kiernan was at the Las Vegas conference to see about In-Vehicle Experience, or as we’ve known it for decades – car radio.

Throw some television into the equation as well; industry experts are examining how to offer relevant car radio and video experiences into a future which includes autonomous vehicles. Surround sound? Screens on the back of front car seats? What kind of new content?

TrafficCast supplies nationwide up-to-the-minute traffic information, much of which is disseminated through automobile radios.

The National Association of Broadcasters conference is the world’s largest and most comprehensive convention encompassing the convergence of media, entertainment and technology. With more than 90,000 attendees from 160 countries and 1,600+ exhibitors, NAB Show is the ultimate marketplace for solutions that transcend traditional broadcasting and fuel the digital storytelling economy.

Stormy Weather

Oregon is one of the many states experiencing high water difficulties this spring. The National Weather Service in Portland warns that today, April 8, the Willamette River is high at Harrisburg, Corvallis and Albany due to heavy rains in the central Coast Range, central Cascade Foothills, and south Willamette Valley. Just this morning, State Highway 58 near Oakridge in Lane County became closed in both directions when earth and trees slid down a rain-soaked hillside and across the road.

In other parts, I-29 through Iowa and Missouri remains closed since March 19th, following flooding that submerged whole swaths of farmland. And storms are predicted to hit
the Plains, Midwest and East later this week, bringing rain and possibly hail and tornadoes.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is only one of many state departments issuing safety tips for “weathering” storm season 2019. The Oregon DOT reminds drivers that heavy rains can create dangerous conditions that include reduced visibility, reduction traction between tires and road, and compromised car handling. It advises:

Slow down, especially through high water. Driving through several inches of water at high speed can cause you to lose control of the car.

Be aware of the potential for hydroplaning, when your tires encounter more water than they can scatter. Your tire loses traction with the road and if this occurs, ease off the gas, gently apply the brakes and steer straight ahead.

Keep your distance; you may need more time to slow down.

Turn on your headlights to improve visibility.

Disengage your cruise control.

Check your brakes. After driving through a puddle, check that brakes are working properly by tapping them gently a few times.

The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round


“Hey, Bus Driver!” is what Madison passengers WON’T be saying on the new shuttle bus scheduled to begin operating in Madison, Wisconsin’s downtown. That’s because the 15-passenger people-hauler will be automated, electric and driverless.

There will be a driver on the shuttle’s initial runs actually, to watch out for safety, observe how the vehicle is functioning and reacting in traffic, and to answer passenger’s questions. The forthcoming venture is planned as a demonstration – a analysis project, that is, whose mission is not only to carry passengers but to be a test buggy, studied by researchers who aim to make autonomous vehicles part of the country’s transportation system. The United States Department of Transportation, chose Madison, Wisconsin (headquarters of TrafficCast International!) as one of only 10 cities to examine automated shuttles in real-time traffic. The one-to-two-year project will be guided by members of the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s Traffic operations and Safety (TOPS) Laboratory.

The idea for a long-term study picked up steam last April when a 15-passenger shuttle bus made by the French company Navya carried a total of 750 passengers on test rides around the UW campus over a two-day period.

For a route, city officials have targeted a near East-side revival corridor, burgeoning with newly-built high rise apartment buildings, and chic taverns and eateries. Initial plans have the driverless shuttle traveling an 8-block course from the State Capitol to a new music venue and back.

Passengers will ride at no charge during the driverless bus’s test phase. Researchers will be grading how the vehicle reacts to stimuli like bicycles and sudden situations, and how seamlessly, or not, it negotiates traffic while reaching a top speed of only 28 miles per hour. Engineers say trips may be suspended during icy weather.

City officials see many plusses from the use of automated vehicles, from easing traffic congestion and pollution, to diminishing the scramble for limited downtown parking spaces, to offering late night transport.

Project managers are accepting bids presently from shuttle companies, and hope to have the project launched, and driverless trolley cars on city streets, by fall, 2019.

Responsive Road Protects Pedestrians

With driverless and electric cars dominating most mainstream transportation news, the focus is often on drivers. But London-Based urban technology firm, Umbrellium puts pedestrians first.

Ubrellium created the first-ever responsive road surface, called Starling Crossing. “Starling” stands for “Stigmergic Adaptive Responsive Learning”. The prototype was installed in South London, but one can see the utility of this technology in any modern bustling city, where pedestrian populations are ever-increasing. And with the danger of smartphone-distracted driver also on the rise, prioritizing pedestrian safety is a necessity.

Ubrellium describes the functionality of Starling Crossing on their website:

“. . .cameras track objects that are moving across the road surface, distinguishing between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, calculating their precise locations, trajectories and velocities and anticipating where they may move to in the next moment.”

You can see Starling Crossing in action below:

How to Conquer Your Fear and Win Prizes

One of the winners of TrafficCast’s Hack the Commute says it wasn’t always easy for her to pitch in front of a crowd of people. Yet, Dorcas Olatunji beat out plenty of competition in TrafficCast’s Hackathon – a coding competition which took place in June, 2018. Here’s how she upped her game to the winning level.

BlueTOAD Training Monday, Feb. 11

Phase II of TrafficCast International’s online BlueTOAD/BlueARGUS client training resumes on Monday. The format of this training focuses on specific, real world examples and various use cases. It allows BlueTOAD/BlueARGUS clients, like state and municipal transportation department, to imagine and inquire about real world examples and set their own particular challenges to the BlueTOAD and BlueARGUS experts for solving.

How to use the BlueTOAD/BlueARGUS system to improve travel patterns for major events would be one focus, for instance. Although some 400 online courses have been reserved, there is room for more. For more information, or to sign up, go to

How a Bunny Path Saves Lives

animal deer road snow

Photo by Snapwire on

The state of Virginia is deer-friendly! And to prove it, the Virginia Department of Transportation launched a project to reduce deer vs. car/truck collisions. The project included construction of fencing along stretches of Interstate 64 near Charlottesville to guide deer and other wildlife to two underpasses. This design would prevent deer and other wildlife from crossing the highway right in the path of four to 18-wheeled vehicles.

After one year of use – one of the deer and bunny paths opened January 2018 – Virginia transportation officials report that the previous year’s average of 7.5 deer-vehicle collisions along that one-mile stretch was reduced to one. Further, use of the underpasses by deer and other wildlife increased significantly over the year.

Virginia DOT is ready to expand the project into other high risk locations, utilizing the new higher standard design and wildlife fencing placement along existing underpasses throughout the state.