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Intelligent Roads

The INTRO project aims to address the problems of road safety and capacity by combining sensing technologies and local databases with real-time networking technologies. This will improve both road safety and capacity by providing rapid feedback on emerging problems to maintenance authorities and road users.

Tags: Road


Over 42 000 road users are killed in European Union countries annually and around 3.5 million are injured. This accounts for annual costs of over €160 billion, not counting the pain and suffering of victims and their relatives.

Recent studies in one EU Member State show that, since 1980, crash safety improvements have reduced causalities by 15%, drink/driving measures by 11% and road safety engineering improvements by 6.5%. There is clearly considerable untapped potential for a much greater reduction in casualties through adding intelligence to road infrastructure.

Even without safety improvements, European countries are experiencing ever-increasing maintenance costs to keep the road network in a good and safe condition. The reasons for this are increased traffic volume combined with accelerated damage to pavements due to increased gross weights and evolution of load configurations of heavy goods vehicles. With the demand for increased freight transport increasing substantially, this situation will get worse instead of better unless new approaches can be found to increase the capacity and improve the maintenance through added intelligence to existing roads rather than building new roads.

In these circumstances, the target set by the EC of a 50% reduction in road deaths by 2010 is ambitious and a major challenge for the road research community, as well as the road authorities and operators.

An innovative integration of existing sensor and communication technologies with road infrastructure is one way of reaching the twin goals of increased safety and increased capacity. For a relatively small cost, significant ‘added value’ can be obtained from existing infrastructure, achieving a cost-effective solution to the problem.


The INTRO project will focus on the following main objectives:

  • applying and combining existing and new sensor technologies in a holistic way in order to increase capacity and safety significantly, as well as improving the well-being of road users
  • make combined use of real-time network technologies, road databases and sensor technologies in order to create timely and localised information of the infrastructure, improving both road safety and capacity
  • aggregate and visualise information in order to optimise the road user’s needs as well those of the road operator and road authorities.

A challenging and promising fact is that a large amount of sensor/data input is already available: road surface databases, in situ sensors in road pavements and bridges (WIM, strain gauges, optical-fibre technologies, etc) as well as an increased number of in-vehicle sensors developed by the car industry.

INTRO aims to provide driver and road operator ofaccurate, real-time information of road safety and traffic conditions, using traffic data as well as pavement and vehicle sensors. The figure illustrates a possible warning system for sudden onset of slippery road sections due to adverse weather condition
INTRO aims to provide driver and road operator ofaccurate, real-time information of road safety and traffic conditions, using traffic data as well as pavement and vehicle sensors. The figure illustrates a possible warning system for sudden onset of slippery road sections due to adverse weather condition

Description of work

Three technical strands of research will be conducted:

  • Surface safety monitoring:

    • integration and testing of real-time warning systems at network level to achieve a significant decrease in the number of accidents due to ‘surprise effects’ from sudden local changes in weather resulting in low friction and hence skidding
    • increasing drivers’ attention to low road friction by only a few percent may result in significantly higher reduction of accident rates due to its non-linear relationship
    • Europe’s most advanced driving simulator will be used to optimise driver responses to new types of information.
  • Traffic and safety monitoring:

    • combination of different sensor data will enable the estimations of entirely new real-time safety parameters and performance indicators to be used in traffic monitoring and early warning systems.
  • Intelligent pavement and intelligent vehicles:

    • innovative use and a combination of new and existing sensor technologies in pavements, bridges and vehicles in order to prevent accidents, enhance traffic flows and significantly extend the lifetimes of existing infrastructure
    • a prolonged lifetime of high capacity roads could thus be obtained using novel methods for early warning detection of deterioration and damage to road surfaces.



  • Consolidated state of the art focused on the scope of INTRO and focused needs across Europe
  • Report on scenarios, structure and potential short-term trends
  • Report on implementation strategies
  • Model for estimating expectable stopping distances
  • Report on the simulator study, including evaluation of impact on safety and drivers
  • Data model for road safety-related data
  • Report on technical implementation and users’ feedback
  • Demonstration of methods for the measurement of condition using probe vehicles
  • Report on the assessment of methods to identify pavement conditions using current and novel in situ sensors
  • Report on the use of combined probe vehicle and in situ measurements. Proposals for best practice implementation
  • Traffic indicator needs: single source and data fusion estimation models
  • Integration of weather effects for traffic indicators forecasting
  • Safety indicators needs: simulation-based and field-based models
  • Creation of a website
  • Report on the launch workshop held in June 2005
  • Report: A Vision of Intelligent Roads

    • Final summary report
    • Project quality assurance plan
    • Project mid-term report
    • Project final report

Exploitable product(s) or measure(s:

  • guidelines and recommendations for ITS deployment use in future standards
  • implemented data model combining static and dynamic skid warnings
  • new use of in situ sensors and probe cars
  • new methods for data fusion and travel time estimations


  • road authorities
  • ITS service providers
  • traffic management