Mobile road weather sensing technology has been around for the past several decades. Typical offerings include devices to detect infrared (IR) pavement temperature, air temperature and relative humidity. The devices initially were deployed to provide tactical road weather information to snowplow drivers, but the data from the devices was never stored or transmitted.
As Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) technology was utilized over the past decade, the sensors could be hooked to the AVL hardware and the data transmitted through the AVL communications. Accuracy and quality control of the data was, and remains, an issue with these deployments due to the lack of connectivity outside of the truck. More expensive mobile devices also exist that can be deployed sparingly, but include information about pavement conditions. These devices have not been widely adopted within the state agencies because of high costs.
Since most agency fleets are now connected, lower cost and self-contained mobile sensors can take advantage of wide-spread cellular communication networks accessible along most major routes. Sensors are now available that are significantly lower in cost than traditional mobile sensors. They can be deployed on any type of vehicle, both public and private.
They are cost-effective enough to not only be implemented fleetwide, but also mass-deployed on large private fleets of trucks (long-haul, regional and local). A deployment on 20,000- 25,000 coast-to-coast long-haul trucks would cover 90 percent of US interstates, with observational measurements of each part of the road coming in approximately every thirty minutes. This large deployment on private trucks would allow for states to transition from the status quo of only using roadway infrastructure for road weather information, to the ability to purchase lower-cost data associated with vehicles traveling the agency’s roads at all hours and in all types of weather.