To grit or not to grit. That is the question that road authorities ask themselves every winter when mercury levels drop to around freezing point or go under it. If gritter trucks s are brought in too late, road safety is at stake. But if the trucks are used when there is no clear ice, then people and resources are needlessly put to use.
As soon as the sensors of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars have recognized a slippery road surface, this information is sent to the road authorities.
The Dutch province of Limburg has edged closer to solving this problem thanks to a partnership with Mercedes-Benz in a province-wide initiative to improve mobility. Last winter, a test was carried out successfully, using information on icy conditions of the road from private Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.
Models equipped with the car manufacturer’s vehicle communication system, which uses Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), automatically communicate with other vehicles and the infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of the car. One of the pieces of information transmitted by the DSRC is the icy condition of roads.
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Once the sensors (ESP and ABS) of these vehicles have detected a slippery road surface, this information, including GPS data, is sent to the Mercedes-Benz central information system. This takes place in real time via the mobile radio network.
Optimizing road salt
This anonymized information is displayed on digital maps. These are simultaneously provided to the winter maintenance departments within the province of Limburg. This will make it possible in future to deploy the winter service more effectively and optimize the use of road salt.
Road authorities also continue to rely on other sources of information. Weather forecasts from the weather bureau are closely monitored. Plus roads are also equipped with sensors, which measure the temperature of the road surfaces and above it. Along with how much salt is already on the road.
The collaboration between the road authorities and Mercedes-Benz is part of a mobility system in the southern Netherlands known as SmartwayZ.NL. This partnership involves almost 150 parties, including the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg, various municipalities, companies and knowledge institutions.
Another partner in the netwerk of SmartwayZ.NL provides truck drivers with information about their tire pressure levels.
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