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Street smarts: University of Washington researchers develop new roadside device to improve traffic safety, mobility and infrastructure management

Published on March 26, 2021

A busy street in Downtown Seattle, with a crowded sidewalk on the left and traffic on the right.
Busy street in Downtown Seattle.

“Mobile Unit for Sensing Traffic” is a next generation Internet of Things device

The rise in connected and autonomous vehicles and other transportation innovations have transformed municipalities into smart cities and improved the communication of roadway conditions to drivers. These cutting-edge technologies are part of a growing movement toward intelligent transportation systems (ITS), a transportation management approach that integrates advanced communications between vehicles and infrastructure. This system-sensing information is extremely valuable to transportation managers who strive to safely and efficiently maintain infrastructure, and vehicle manufacturers interested in emerging technologies that help to support the internet-connected vehicles and mobility experiences of the future.

From traditional communications systems, to wireless networks, to roadside sensing devices, current transportation management systems draw from a broad range of data sources, and each of these data streams shows one part of the picture. The need for clear, consistent vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) data is growing, yet the lack of interoperability between these data-collection platforms makes it difficult to manage information and integrate crucial traffic data.

Enter the Mobile Unit for Sensing Traffic (MUST)

MUST is an Internet of Things (IoT) roadside device that is more than just a simple alternative to existing sensors. In fact, MUST integrates multiple functions into one device: road surface, weather, and traffic sensing; data fusion and computation; and communication functions. It provides a powerful yet cost-effective solution to the traffic data challenges and benefits all stakeholders in the road transportation ecosystem. This new and innovative device was developed by the University of Washington Smart Transportation Applications and Research Laboratory (STAR Lab), directed by Dr. Yinhai Wang, professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and adjunct professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering. The first version of MUST sensor was developed in 2018, and since then the STAR Lab team has been actively enhancing the MUST sensors through research projects.


Continue reading at the Mobility Innovation Center. 


Originally written for the Mobility Innovation Center Projects
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