VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed an automatic slipperiness detection system for cars that helps drivers avoid accidents in slippery road conditions. Thanks to the system, vehicles are warned in advance of a road’s actual slipperiness. If the road becomes slippery, other vehicles arriving in the area will also be warned immediately.
VTT's system makes use of an entirely novel, real-time method of obtaining information on a road’s actual slipperiness. Transmission of slippery road warnings to vehicles via, for example, SMS messages has been tested before, but lacking the information now available, warnings have been based on estimates derived from sources such as weather forecasts. With the new system, it is possible to obtain direct information on road conditions.
Slipperiness detection is based on a method developed by VTT, whereby changes in road conditions are detected in real time, based on data collected by the car's own sensors. The system is capable of determining the slipperiness of a road on the basis of a drive of a few kilometers. The information is then passed on to the driver before the road conditions change.
Observations collected from all cars and the related coordinates are transmitted wirelessly to a background system, which maintains a real-time slipperiness map and generates a log of the road conditions. For each car that joins the system, the background system produces and transmits an individual data package on road conditions. This allows drivers to prepare in advance for slippery stretches of road.
Various vehicle terminal devices can be used to join the system, as long as they have sufficient capacity to carry out the slipperiness detection calculations, have a link to the vehicle's data bus, are equipped with a location tracking system, and are able to connect to the background system. Information on the level of slipperiness can be transmitted to drivers by means of warning lights, voice signals, text, or symbols.