Buses plying the roads in Berlin will soon be fitted with devices that will enable the buses to act as environmental sensors, cameras and GPS. This could herald a brand new feature for mobile local services.
The information collected by these mobile road sensors will be relayed to the driver of the bus and, through wireless means such as mobile phones, wi-fi and WiMAX, to centres where the data collected can be processed and appropriate action taken when necessary.
Patrice Simon, the project coordinator says that efforts are underway to develop a means to detect some kind of problem occurring on the bus itself, such as a fight breaking out. According to him, the devices, though small, are very powerful and should enable creation of systems that can directly inform the police in case of problems.
This project is a Pan-European effort costing 3.83 million Euro. The effort is headed by the University of Applied Sciences in Germany and the Institute for Transport Services in Hungary.
On board units on the new breed of buses will be able to check the road surface and simultaneously analyze the air for fog, rain and smog. The devices will be pollution resistant and can adjust rapidly to environmental changes such as tunnels, bridges or dark roads. It will also be possible to judge traffic conditions around the bus, through a video camera, to spot unauthorized cars in the bus lane, the number of vehicles in adjoining lanes, speeding vehicles, traffic jams and accidents.
While the system is currently in development primarily for government usage, the same technology could very easily be extended to start providing the general public a lot more location specific information in the future, and could make a much wider variety of current information available, greatly expanding the breadth of services that can be offered by mobile local search services.