Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 12:46 UK

Buses 'could be road sensor hubs'


Researchers install sensors on a Berlin bus. Credit: Moryne Project

Buses could be turned into "mobile sensing platforms" to help reduce traffic and improve road conditions, according to European researchers.

Berlin buses were used to demonstrate the technology, which included on-board environmental sensors, cameras and GPS.

The buses transmitted data wirelessly, over mobile phone networks, wi-fi and Wimax, to traffic control centres.

Project co-ordinator Patrice Simon said they were also looking at technology to detect if fights break out on buses.

"The devices are quite small but very powerful, and we could develop software that could analyse images to detect if a fight breaks out on the bus, for example, and automatically alert the police, " he said.

The pan-European research project, dubbed Moryne, is being led by the University of Applied Sciences, Osnabruck, in Germany, and the Institute for Transport Sciences, in Hungary.

The sensor systems could be used to detect fog and ice on the roads, as well as analysing traffic conditions and giving alerts about smog conditions.

The scientists believe the data could be used to give motorists automatic warnings of traffic jams, as well as helping control centres respond to dynamic conditions on roads.

"Most large cities, where this type of system would be deployed, already have very extensive camera systems, inductive loops and environmental sensors networks in place to analyse traffic and weather," said Mr Simon.

He added: "But city traffic monitoring authorities involved in the project have told us they consider the information provided by buses as a useful supplement."

The report into the Moryne project was first published in ICT Results.

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