Drones Used to Address Heavy Traffic in AnnapolisNovember 13, 2017
Like many cities across the country, Annapolis, Maryland, has been dealing with heavier traffic. In an effort to address this problem, city officials have been trying to propose a solution to make traffic run more smoothly. They are optimistic that drones may be the answer to the problem, or at least be part of the solution.
For years, residents of Annapolis have expressed their frustration over the traffic situation, particularly along Forest Drive. Oftentimes, the gridlock is so bad that motorists are stuck in traffic for hours. According to Annapolis Police, Chief Scott Bake, the heavily-traveled Forest Drive is a traffic nightmare. On a good day, traffic may be backed up for 15 to 20 minutes. On days when traffic is heavier, motorists can expect to sit for up to three hours.
How Drones Can Help
Gridlock is often caused by a wreck or road work. Chief Baker commented that the use of drones will allow the police department to use their resources more efficiently. Rather than sending three or four officers to a location to direct traffic or block lanes, the drones can help assess the accident and provide valuable data to the police officers on the scene. Drones have the capability to take measurements, gather evidence, and investigate damages. Ultimately, this information can be used to spot trends in the flow of traffic.
Drones can also provide real-time updates to traffic controllers, who can broadcast the information to commuters through radio channels or the internet, allowing them to avoid areas that have heavy traffic. Drones are also significantly less expensive that the present system of using satellites to monitor traffic patterns.
Disadvantages of Drones
Drone technology is still relatively new, and it does have certain limitations. Currently, there are two types of drones that are suitable for traffic monitoring, including the multirotor drones and the fixed wing UAV. The fixed-wing type has a longer flight time, but cannot hover. That means the fixed-wing UAV can follow a fixed course to follow the flow of traffic, but it cannot monitor a single intersection.
Drones also cannot be used during inclement weather, as rain, snow, and high winds can limit their effectiveness. In addition, they tend to have a short battery life of approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Researchers at the University of Illinois are working on developing a more efficient battery, but it is still in the development phase.
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