Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch national road operator, has carried out a research with smart cameras to monitor the situation on the road. These cameras will make the opening and closing of hard shoulder running faster, easier and safer. Smart software on existing cameras learns to detect abnormal situations such as incidents and debris on the road. The traffic manager in the traffic centre within seconds receives a signal and can respond immediately for example by closing the lane for hard shoulder running. The software is also able to measure traffic density and consequently open or close the lane for hard shoulder running.
Smart cameras: the future
The results of the first experiments are positive: smart cameras can be used to detect vehicles, traffic density and speed of the vehicles and during daytime also to detect abnormal situations.
The research is a first step to actually using the cameras in real-life. Rijkswaterstaat expects that in the future smart cameras can be used in other situations as well. The software for example should be able to detect trucks that are too high for a tunnel, but also to operate bridges based on the traffic situation and to detect accidents.
In 2018 a market consultation was carried out and specifications of the smart cameras were developed. This included a number of meetings with several interested parties, both national and international. In 2019 Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be added to the video chain and the Graphical User Interface (GUI) will be developed at the traffic centre in Rhoon. Together this will be a decision support system for the automatic operation (opening/closing) of hard shoulder running at the A13 (highway between Rotterdam and The Hague) and Incident Management cameras at the same location. First results are expected in 2020.
Smart cameras will take over routine tasks
Opening and closing of the hard shoulder requires 13% of total capacity of traffic managers. This is mostly a routine task that is performed mostly in peak hour periods. Smart cameras can take over this task, thus releasing extra capacity for important incident and traffic management. Operation and monitoring of tunnels requires 42% of staff capacity. Here too smart cameras can make a difference.
A short movie about the Smart Cameras project (2,5 minutes) can be watched via youtube here: