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South Dakota Department of Transportation
Project Synopsis

Title: Mobile Data Collection for Winter Maintenance Vehicles
Project Researcher: John Mewes,
Project Manager: Dave Huft
Research Period: -
Status: Approved
Cost: $56,160.00

Problem Statement:The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) operates approximately 350 trucks equipped with plows and spreaders for liquid and solid deicing materials. These winter maintenance vehicles, along with their operators, are SDDOTs primary resource for clearing and maintaining a safe state highway system during the winter.

Efficient and effective winter maintenance is important for several reasons, including:

  • the publics expectation of clear highways is increasing;

  • winter maintenance resources-manpower, equipment, and materials-are constrained; and

  • environmental concerns about deicing materials are rising.

  • To achieve the most effective winter maintenance with most efficient use of resources, transportation agencies are moving toward the use of Maintenance Decision Support Systems. An MDSS uses knowledge of existing road conditions, forecasts of impending weather, and principles of chemistry and physics of road surfaces, ice, and deicing chemicals to suggest the most efficient maintenance treatments and timing. To ensure valid recommendations, the MDSS must be promptly informed of maintenance treatments that are actually applied.

    At present, SDDOT feeds information about observed road conditions and actual maintenance treatments manually, either through the MDSS Graphical User Interface at the shop office, or through keyed phone entries. Because manual entry takes time from the vehicle operator, both the amount of data and the frequency of entry are limited. Automatic entry, using sensors equipped on the maintenance vehicle and wireless communications from an onboard mobile data collector, would be far preferable. Such a system could track the vehicles location, measure road surface condition, sense plow positions (up or down), identify material types and application rates, and relay this information to the MDSS. It could also communicate information, such as maintenance recommendations, back to the operator. If communications were compliant with the National Transportation Communications for ITS Protocol (NTCIP), this information could also be used for other purposes such as traveler information and traffic management.

    Research is needed to define the functionality required to support SDDOT maintenance and traffic operations needs and to develop an onboard mobile data collection system to provide that functionality.


    Research Objectives:
    1  Assess the suitability of SDDOT's winter maintenance fleet to be equipped with mobile data collection systems.
    2  Develop functional and physical specifications for a baseline mobile data collection system for winter maintenance vehicles.
    3  Define NTCIP-based protocols for exchanging observations and information for monitoring and control functions between the standard mobile data collection system and a traffic operations center.
    4  Construct and evaluate a functioning field controller that can acquire and condition mobile observations and communicate with a traffic operations center.
    5  To recommend a cost-effective strategy for upgrading SDDOT's winter maintenance fleet.

    Research Tasks:
    1  Conduct a statewide inventory and assessment of SDDOT's winter maintenance fleet to determine its suitability for automated mobile data collection.
    2  Define the needed mobile data collection functionality necessary to support the Department's winter maintenance, traveler information, and traffic operations activities.
    3  Develop and submit for approval by the project's technical panel a concept of operations and a high-level design for a baseline mobile data collection system that can collect data relating to road condition and maintenance treatments to support SDDOT
    4  Upon approval of the concept of operations and high-level design, develop and submit a detailed design and equipment specification for vehicle-mounted instrumentation to enable SDDOT to acquire and install commercial off-the-shelf components during t
    5  Define NTCIP-based protocols for communicating observed data from the mobile data collection system to a traffic operations center and for performing necessary monitoring and control functions.
    6  Develop and submit a detailed design and equipment specification for a field controller that will interface to all of the vehicle-mounted instruments, apply necessary algorithms, and communicate with a traffic operations center using the defined prot
    7  Develop and submit for approval a testing plan for evaluating the performance of four pilot operational mobile data collection systems, including instrumentation and field controllers.
    8  Construct and install field controllers on four instrumented maintenance vehicles and execute the approved testing plan.
    9  After successful completion of the testing plan, incorporate any necessary revisions into design and specification documents.
    10  Prepare a final report summarizing methodology, findings, conclusions and recommendations.
    11  Make an executive presentation to the project's technical panel and provide electronic copies of the presentation material to participating states.

    Documents Available:

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