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Automated Safety Warning System Controller, Phase 2 – UTC

Project #: 4W3018
Start Date: 01/01/2010
End Date: 09/30/2012
Status: Completed

As described in the final report, the controller developed and tested in phase 2 allows for remote access and administration via standard IP-based connections established through POTS dialup or direct connection to wired access points, but is not dependent on those connections for operation. In other words, the controller will remain locally operable in the event that “outside” communication is unavailable for whatever reason. Even if a communication link to the outside is unavailable, the controller will continue to monitor and control its associated devices. This functionality is especially important in rural areas where weather conditions make communications services unreliable when the functionality is needed most. The standardized use of such a device would likely result in decreased maintenance costs, improved reliability, and greater flexibility in implementation when compared with “one-of-a-kind” deployments.


The demand for the deployment of automated warning systems will continue to increase as a lower cost alternative to major highway realignment for safety improvements. Caltrans recognizes that by acting now to develop a standard approach that considers maintenance, flexible implementation, reliability and communications issues, a multitude of one-of-a-kind deployments can be avoided. The benefits of standardization with regard to personnel training, equipment purchase and repair are well known within Caltrans. Development of this type of controller is totally consistent with the technical foundation defined in the Transportation Management System (TMS) Standardization Plan. The controller could be deployed in a wide variety of situations to mitigate safety problems. Applications such as ice detection and warning, wind warning, queue detection and warning would all be readily deployable. Portable systems could also be deployed in work zones for queue detection and warning. Currently, the requirement of custom controller software development is a significant barrier to automated system deployments. The availability of an “off the shelf” controller specifically designed to interoperate with standard TMS elements would tend to promote its use both within California and throughout the nation.

This project was jointly sponsored by the California Department of Transportation and the University Transportation Center (UTC) program of the USDOT. This component of the project represents the portion funded by the UTC program.


This project is a continuation of the prior phase of the Caltrans Automated Warning System Controller project. The goal is to conduct further research and development of an automated warning system controller that can be easily configured to acquire sensor data from Roadside Weather Information Systems (RWIS), detection loops, Remote Traffic Microwave Sensors (RTMS) and video detection systems, and to prepare the system for deployment in Caltrans.