Magazine article ASEE Prism

Wireless Warning

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Wireless Warning

Article excerpt

American highways are dangerous and deadly. In 2001, nearly 38,000 people were killed and 2 million injured in road accidents, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Now, University of Florida researchers want to use radar technology to make our highways safer. They're recommending the use of "smart beacons" implanted along roadsides at every 100 feet to warn drivers of impending dangers, like accidents or fog-related snarls. The beacons would flash either yellow or red to warn drivers to slow or stop; otherwise they'll glow green. They would be about the size of a pack of playing cards and contain solar cells for electricity, batteries, lights, radar, and wireless communications electronics. The beacons would use ultrawideband radar (UWB), the same system that automakers want to use for onboard collision-avoidance mechanisms.

The beacons would not require human intervention, although law or rescue personnel could control them remotely in order to mark evacuation routes or detour traffic around accidents. …

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