Today, road infrastructure technologies are evolving faster than ever before to provide a safer and more comfortable ride to road users. Thanks to the indications of the Italian Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, as well as substantial funding by the Italian road agency Anas, Italy is leading the way in the development of “Smart Roads” in Europe. So, what is a smart road and what are is it for?
Smart Road and Smart Mobility: what do they mean?
In short, Smart Roads are “intelligent roads” that can interact which each passing vehicle providing data that boosts comfort and safety. Thanks to advanced sensors, as well as a plethora of technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Big Data, such roads interact in real-time with traffic control stations, road authorities, road assistance services and intelligent signalling devices.
This is just the start: Smart Mobility technologies reduce the environmental impact by providing better management of road traffic. They are a complex and integrated system that help in reducing accidents, queues and travel times by providing data on the health status of highway infrastructure and continuous monitoring. On this matter, Smart Roads were recognized as an extremely useful tools by the Italian Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure in a 2018 act that rules the experimentation of intelligent technologies on public roads.
Smart Roads represent a new idea of mobility and a mean to boost the synergy between connected and autonomous vehicles with paved roads. They give real-time information on traffic, weather conditions, road works and accidents. At the same time, they can manage all road-related services such as recharging stations for electric vehicles and repair shops, keeping an eye on unforeseen happenings: this process is guaranteed and monitored via digital platforms.
Infrastructure and innovation: how do intelligent and concrete roads go together?
Given that Smart Roads satisfy the needs of modern road users in terms of better compatibility with new technologies, such as electric propulsion and autonomous driving, one must not forget that beyond the implemented technologies road infrastructure is still made of asphalt and concrete; in fact, Italian road infrastructures are well known for their ageing problems. So: how can one combine Smart Roads with the need to provide better road safety to all road users? An efficient solution is given by weigh-in-motion systems.
Weigh-in-motion and Smart Roads: an essential support to Smart Mobility
Weigh-in-motion systems detect the weight of vehicles on a given piece of road while the vehicles are moving. The let road authorities protect bridges and viaducts by efficiently detecting overloaded heavy vehicles, either directly when engaging the infrastructure (so that road authorities can sanction the driver), or better preventively on access roads, for example in the case of toll lane installations, completely preventing the transit of dangerously loaded vehicles.
Moreover, our data suggests that the sole presence of a weigh-in-motion system is enough to cause a deterrent effect against vehicle overloading.
Besides their primary usage, weigh-in-motion installations are optimal multi-task systems that give great insight in all aspects of traffic flows. As of today, they are the only instruments that can provide a multitude of useful information with a single measurement such as weight and inflation pressure of each wheel, as well as speed, number of axles and classification for each vehicle. The size of recorded data hugely increases in case the weigh-in-motion sensor is integrated with external systems such as ANPR cameras for number plate recognition, LIDAR detectors to visualize the 3D shape of each vehicle, or structural monitoring systems, so that the infrastructure vibrational and flexural response can be related to the effort imparted by the transiting vehicles.
Application and benefits of weigh-in-motion systems alongside smart roads
Besides the undoubted benefts of precisely knowing every aspect of traffic fluxes, weigh-in-motion systems go hand in hand with Smart Roads by both providing better road safety to road users and useful data for road managers. Road surface maintenance can be scheduled with unprecedented efficiency, reducing both the impact on road users and on the environment.
It is known from scientific literature road wear by vehicles grows with the fourth power of wheel weight (source: AASHTO pavement design guide): concretely, this means that a 20% overloaded truck causes as much as twice the road damage compared to a legally loaded one. In the same fashion, a completely unloaded truck causes sixteen times less road damage that a fully loaded one. Keeping this in mind, a weigh-in-motion systems are the only instruments that lets road managers know the real wear that the road surface is subjected to each day. In conclusion, weigh-in-motion systems are a turning point in the Smart Road universe: with a single tool, both road user and road infrastructure safety is guaranteed, while meeting the needs of road managers.
Bison, iWiM’s own weigh-in-motion system for Smart Mobility
Our own Bison weigh-in-motion can be installed on highways, toll lanes, bridges, viaducts, urban and country roads. It integrates perfectly with Smart Mobility systems and represent the missing link between digitalizaion, Smart Roads e traditional roads. Contrary to its competitors, it offers:
- High durability and low maintenance
- Ease of migration in case of movement to a new site
- The possibility to re-use sensorized weighing plates after road maintenance interventions
- Constant measurements in all temperature and weather conditions, including mud and snow
- The possibility to install the data-logging equipment up to 10 miles away from the weighing site without any effect on the measurement
- No electric cables nor appliances under the sensorised plates
- Immunity to electromagnetic interference
We are the company that has developed and certified the first weigh-in-motion system in Italy: our solutions are made to last a long time and to dynamically adapt to the technologic evolution and the ever more demanding needs of the roads of the future. Contact us for further information.