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Road safety and traffic management

Researchers from the ITACA Institute design an innovative low-cost sensor for monitoring electric scooters and bicycles on bike lanes

The traffic and variety of Personal Mobility Vehicles (PMV) has grown exponentially in recent years. A study by the MAPFRE foundation estimates that around 1,200,000 people use electric scooters and bicycles daily in Spain. However, despite the emergence of these new forms of mobility, there are still no systems to monitor and control their use accurately and efficiently, which has a negative influence on traffic management, new forms of mobility and, finally, in road safety.

Now, the Traffic Control Systems team of the ITACA Institute, belonging to the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), has designed, developed and validated the first road sensor adapted to personal mobility vehicles. The sensor is based on the use of magnetic loops and is capable of recording and characterizing the use of PMVs. Its implementation would contribute to improving the control of new forms of mobility and, especially, road safety, both for pedestrians and for the rest of the vehicles that move through the city every day. Patented by the UPV, it has been designed, developed and validated for urban environments and can be installed on streets and highways with PMV traffic, either with a reserved or shared lane, in one or two directions.

“While conventional vehicles are subject to exhaustive control through different sensors widely deployed in cities, today scooters, bicycles, and other personal mobility vehicles lack precise and efficient tools to carry out this monitoring. This situation has negative repercussions at various levels, and the most important is security, since current technologies cannot control the use being made, the movement flows of PMVs, the interaction with other users, or detect potential dangers, for some and for others. The system that we have designed and validated allows us to obtain very valuable information through a very cheap and very reliable circuit”, says Antonio Mocholí, director of the Traffic Control Systems group at the ITACA Institute of the Universitat Politècnica de València.

The system devised from the laboratories of the ITACA-UPV Institute improves the current magnetic loop detectors used for motor vehicles and provides very useful tools for the remote analysis of PMV traffic. Among its advantages, it instantly obtains the speed and direction of traffic, which allows calculating the density of traffic in a given area; and even the type of scooter (depending on its power) and the model of the vehicle.

“The sensor is capable of detecting the magnetic fingerprint of each model of electric scooter and this allows us to discriminate its category and brand. The monitoring of these parameters contributes to better compliance with municipal regulations and to implement adequate mobility planning, including regulation of traffic lights, infrastructures and itineraries when works and maintenance work are carried out, etc.”, points out Carlos Moyano Gomez, student of the Degree in Engineering in Telecommunications Technologies and Systems, of the Higher Technical School of Telecommunications Engineering, who collaborated in this research with the completion of his Final Degree Project.

Great reception

The invention has been very well received in the forums in which it has been presented. “In this sense, the Spanish Road Association, a reference entity at a state and European level, has applauded the research carried out and has highlighted that the massive implementation of this system would play a crucial role in the development of sustainable mobility in urban environments”, adds Antonio Martinez Millana, a researcher at the ITACA Research Institute.

In tribute to Ferran Mocholí Belenguer

The development of this system is the central axis of Ferran Mocholí Belenguer’s doctoral thesis, the result of more than 4 years of work. “Ferran passed away last September 2021, and from the Institute we wanted to pay tribute to him and for the whole of society to know the results of his research and his contribution. We deeply regret the loss of an exemplary human being, since, apart from being an extraordinary researcher, Ferran was above all a colleague full of humanity and kindness”, highlights Jose Manuel Catalá, Director of the ITACA Research Institute of the Universitat Politècnica de València.

Source: UPV’s Information Office