The National Academies

NCHRP IDEA 20-30/IDEA 083 [Completed (IDEA)]

Development of a Wide Area Optical Surface Contamination Detection System for Public Transportation Applications
[ NCHRP 20-30 (NCHRP-IDEA) ]

  Project Data
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Inam Jawed

This project developed a laser-based remote sensing technology for detecting ice on road surfaces. The system is an adaptation of a wide area ice detection system (IceHawk) that utilizes laser polarization properties and has been applied successfully to detect ice on typical aircraft surfaces (Figure 1). The work involved analysis of target materials, improving range performance and detection of wet surfaces. The existing IceHawk system was modified to allow for stationary mount and remote operation. Target materials (concrete, asphalt, etc.) were evaluated for polarization reflection behavior and test data collected during winter was used to improve and refine the system. A station pole mounted IceHawk system was found adaptable to detect ice and snow on roadway surfaces. Test results showed a distinguishable difference between a clean surface and one covered with snow or ice. Data to determine the minimum thickness threshold settings for ice, snow and wet roadway conditions was collected and a pixel-filtering technique was evaluated to determine the ice, snow and wet area criteria necessary to alert the operator of unacceptable conditions. Work on range improvement enhanced the signal to noise ratio and led to an increase of 25 percent in the detection range for ice, snow and wet surface. Additional improvements involved creating larger collecting optics and increasing the amount of light energy delivered to the photodetector. Further research, development, and testing, however, will be needed before the technology can be applied to the highways.  The final report is available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS # PB2004-105015).

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