Trucks communicating together bring intelligent transport into everyday life

24.2.2017 10:32

Over the coming year, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and VR Transpoint, together with Boliden's Kevitsa mine, will be testing how traffic safety can be improved by transmitting local weather information directly from one vehicle to another. The tests will be carried out on the section of road between Sodankylä and Kemi.

Photo: Eija Vallinheimo

Photo: Eija Vallinheimo

During the spring of 2017, the Finnish Meteorological Institute's Intelligent Arctic Lorries research project, funded by the ERDF, will fit several of VR Transpoint's trucks with friction measurement devices. The trucks will collect measurement data about road and weather conditions in real time using the friction measurement devices as well as the vehicles' own telemetry equipment.

The main route for the lorries is the section of road between Boliden Kevitsa Mining Oy's mine at Petkula, in the municipality of Sodankylä, and the port of Kemi. The measurements will continue during the vehicles' operations at least until September 2018, and after that for as long as the traffic continues along that route and the measurement equipment remains in working order.  The Lapland University of Applied Sciences is also involved in the project, and the project funding is being managed by the Regional Council of Lapland.

The system also utilises an experimental road weather station. The road weather station is situated next to the E75 road, south of the centre of Sodankylä. "This is not an ordinary road weather station; the whole station is constructed with an eye to intelligent road projects. As well as more ordinary road weather station measurement devices and road condition cameras, the research station is also equipped with versatile, wireless communication systems which enable communication between cars and the station.  Data is collected from cars on such factors as the road surface, friction and temperature to supports the road weather station's measurements", explains Dr Timo Sukuvaara, Senior Research Scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

The objective of the tests is to use the observations to construct a more advanced road weather service where road weather data is transmitted directly to drivers from one car to another. "In the longer term, the aim is to create completely new services and service concepts utilising similar mobile measurement instrumentation and other data generated by vehicles which today is not used at all", says Timo Sukuvaara.

Vehicles already produce a lot of observation material which could be used to create new weather, safety and comfort services for road users.  "Intelligent transport has been a topic of discussion for a long time, but the progress of adopting intelligent transport services in everyday use has been slow. The aim of this test is to investigate how individualised services for vehicles could be produced in real time on specific sections of road.  For example, a warning could be given about a slippery, icy corner half a kilometre ahead on a road where conditions are otherwise good", summarises Dr Sukuvaara.

Demanding conditions on the Petkula - Kemi stretch of road

"Since friction measurement equipment is comparatively large and expensive, it is sensible to install the equipment on vehicles that travel along a section of road that is being researched a lot. In addition, measurement equipment on large trucks does not disturb the view. On top of that, telemetry data today is best available precisely from heavy goods vehicles, there is significantly less information from private cars openly available", explains Time Sukuvaara.

"The lorries that carry concentrate from the Kevitsa mine drive every working day along the Petkula - Kemi section of road, practically the whole time, with only a few hours break. The weather conditions on this section of almost 300 kilometres are really demanding and changeable, the trucks are heavy, especially when loaded, and it has not been possible to avoid accidents completely.  When we were offered to opportunity to take part in this kind of experiment, which as well as improving general road safety could also improve the safety of our heavy goods vehicles, of course we seized the chance. Through joint development of new, more environmentally-friendly vehicles and intelligent transport services, we hope to create a safer environment also for the people who live alongside the routes our lorries follow; our children also cross the no. 4 road on their way to school", says Krista, the newly appointed logistics manager at Kevitsa. 

More information:

FMI: Timo Sukuvaara, tel. +358 40 529 4977, timo.sukuvaara@fmi.fi
VR Transpoint: Juha Haapanen, tel. +358 40 595 3977, juha.haapanen@vrtranspoint.fi
Boliden: Krista Stauffer, tel. +358 40 669 3051, krista.stauffer@boliden.com