The Finnish firm is launching at Intertraffic a new idea that it believes will appeal to smaller cities: a slim, black cylinder that can be embedded in the roadway to provide critical weather data.
The Vaisala Ground Cast contains a sensor that lies flush with the road surface, together with a battery power source and communications device to transmit details of the road conditions to a control centre.
Ground Cast is around 30cm long and designed to slot into a hole drilled into the carriageway. The sensors measure road surface temperature, whether the road is wet or dry and the amount of salt, or other de-icing material, that remains on the road. “This tells you if you need to go out to treat the road,” said Vaisala’s sales director, roads business Europe, Erik Sucksdorff.
While the company’s full-scale weather stations are typically used on major routes, the Ground Cast is ideal for regional roads or city streets. “You can drop this into locations that are not covered by the ‘heavy artillery,’” said Sucksdorff.
The container also measures temperatures below road surface. This can tell operators if, for example, there is enough residual warmth in the ground to melt autumn snow, thus reducing the need to treat roads at that time of year. Conversely, if light snow falls in early spring, low underground temperatures may require the road to be treated, even if the amount of snow or ice is slight.
The Ground Cast has a guaranteed life of three years and can be replaced thereafter. Pilot projects using the device have been undertaken in Viborg, Denmark and in several Nordic nations, as well as the UK and France. It is scheduled to be installed in the Netherlands shortly.