Friday, March 1, 2024

Black ice sensors to smooth ride for alpine drivers

NSW

It’s hoped an Australian-first innovation will make a trip to the snow safer for drivers by offering real-time updates on when black ice is present on NSW roads.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Sam Farraway said the Real Time Alpine Info Pilot had installed sensors and weather stations to identify and detect the warning signs of black icy and dangerous driving conditions.

“Knowing when to fit snow chains and when to potentially call off a trip is lifesaving information on alpine roads,” Mr Farraway said.

“More than 6,000 vehicles leave Jindabyne on a busy winter morning to make their way up to the slopes. This volume of traffic  in difficult conditions, along with drivers inexperienced on alpine roads unfortunately contributes to incidents daily.”

New roadside weather stations have been installed at five locations this season, equipped with specialised sensors to monitor road surface temperatures, air temperature, precipitation and wind speed.

“We’re analysing the data gathered this year and hope to be able to predict when and where black ice will form next snow season,” the Minister said.

Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary for Customer Strategy and Technology, Joost De Kock said the pilot leverages road monitoring tools being used overseas and emerging data network technologies.

“This project was pitched to us by our alpine innovation team, who saw an opportunity to make snow travel safer and one we’re delighted to support,” said Mr De Kock.

“Getting live alerts through signs, live traffic apps, and websites is better for drivers, and safer for our staff who currently inspect alpine roads manually.”

Data from the solar-powered weather stations is transmitted through a special low-power long range wide area network (LoRaWAN).

Once the Real Time Alpine Info Pilot is complete, TfNSW says it will investigate other sites prone to snow and black ice.

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