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Up to the challenge of improving intersection safety


According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), roughly one-quarter of traffic fatalities and about one-half of all traffic injuries in this country are attributed to intersections. As winners of the first stage of the national Intersection Safety Challenge, a research team at The Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research (CAR) is helping develop solutions that could save lives.

The U.S. DOT Intersection Safety Challenge aims to transform roadway intersection safety by incentivizing new and emerging technologies that identify and address unsafe conditions involving vehicles and vulnerable road users (VRUs). Improving the safety of drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists is of critical importance to achieving the U.S. DOT’s vision of zero roadway deaths and serious injuries.

The Intersection Safety Challenge research team with a Kenny Rd. intersection in the background
(l to r) Ekim Yurtsever, Giorgio Rizzoni and Michele Giuliani

Ohio State’s team – Research Associate Ekim Yurtsever, Visiting Research Fellow Michele Giuliani and CAR Director Giorgio Rizzoni – proposed an Intersection Safety System (ISS) that enhances the safety of road users by combining multi-sensor fusion, perception, AI, machine learning and active warning methodologies.

Their AI-based smart roadside system can warn road users in dangerous situations. The ISS will detect, localize and classify both vehicles and VRUs simultaneously. It also will predict the movements or trajectories of all those elements in real-time and identify potential conflicts and unsafe conditions. The active warning system will utilize wireless communication and audio-visual cues to alert road users in dangerous situations, working in tandem with traffic light control.

“We are very pleased to have been selected for this first phase and it is our goal to advance the technology outlined in the paper towards commercialization,” said Rizzoni. “There are many challenges in developing such a system, beyond the technology, that involve human perception, response and reaction, and we believe that we are prepared to address all of them.”

In the challenge’s first stage, U.S. DOT received 120 design concept papers, from which 15 winners were selected. Each winning team received $100,000 to continue their research. In the next stage, teams are expected to develop, train and improve algorithms for the detection, localization and classification of VRUs and vehicles using U.S. DOT-supplied sensor data collected at a controlled test roadway intersection.

“As Secretary Buttigieg says, the number of fatalities occurring on our roadways is unacceptable. We need to act swiftly on several fronts, and the U.S. DOT Intersection Safety Challenge represents one concrete step forward towards achieving our goal of Vision Zero,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Chief Scientist Robert C. Hampshire. “Congratulations to the Stage 1A winners and we look forward to the further development, validation, and testing of their intersection safety system concepts in the near future.”

Category: Research
Tag: mobility