It’s all about getting to your destination on time. What if drones in the sky ensured that traffic management was as smooth as the flow of a stream? Here are the top 5 drone-led impacts and breakthroughs for traffic monitoring and management.
Let’s take the United States as a sample map as more traffic data is available for its zones. A recent study suggested that the country loses $87 billion and 97 hours to traffic annually. This is a loss to the productivity and mental health of the entire community. This is a universal crisis and can be extrapolated (in principle) across multiple countries.
Traffic is alive anywhere you go. Why alive? It’s simple. You can feel the pulse of traffic many kilometres out of its epicentre. Imagine a truck making a sharp turn and blocking another lane of moving vehicles at any traffic stop. This effect would be felt within a few minutes even a few blocks down. Just then, would you know why you are suddenly stuck in traffic? The effect of traffic is widespread but the knowledge of its multiple origins are restricted. Not anymore. Drones are here to unclog traffic snarls for the authorities and the commuters alike.
Here is the countdown for the top 5 ground-level impact-applications for drones in traffic management
5. Drone-led target vehicle spotting and tracking
There are always speeding, theft or accidents along the road. Traffic police and professionals must be alert and ready to move at the drop of a hat. The perpetrators must be tracked before they are lost in the city. Stationary CCTV cameras are restricted by their location and their movement. Drones are ideal in such scenarios to immediately identify, tag and follow these moving targets.
ideaForge drones have been evolving for more than a decade as per military standards. A celebrated feature is their precise tagging and tracking of moving targets, live.
The high-resolution cameras virtually mark the moving target. Furthermore, these drones are equipped with dual payloads which means that they can swiftly and instantly switch from live visual feeds to precise thermal imaging in the air. The drones can follow any car with a birds-eye-view. All the live feed is being recorded and can be used as evidence.
4. Managing traffic during events or festivals
We know how random events like sports events or concerts create parking and traffic bottlenecks. Festivals also have a similar effect across major cities. If a person spends an average of half an hour in traffic, such events easily double it.
Drones help to report on multiple traffic-bottlenecks across the city. This helps the authorities to effectively manage traffic reroutes or redirections to disengage the load from certain event-affected roads. Drones can ease the pressure on commuters and attendees by seamlessly syncing traffic management initiatives across the city.
3. ‘Drone’ beat patrolling as a resource-multiplier
Traffic police and personnel are often overworked. The city keeps growing in population and business hubs. Every day there are more cars being added than those being decommissioned. The police must work tirelessly through holidays through connected shifts for continuous surveillance. The situation has come to a point where there is a shortage of necessary traffic police required to manage the overgrown city populations.
Drones are the perfect partners for patrolling and surveillance, slipping in as ideal resource-multipliers. Drones can cover almost 10x more visual surveillance on a patrol as compared to a person. All the traffic surveillance is beamed live through encrypted transmissions. Officers can evaluate the feed live or assess the recordings later for details. Drones are more efficient than traffic personnel patrolling. They can ease their bandwidth and help them focus on enforcing regulations and control rather than mere surveillance.
2. First respondents for traffic snarls and emergencies
We are all painfully aware that traffic snarls can happen anytime, anywhere. As pointed out earlier, the effects of traffic are widespread, but it’s not always easy to spot its exact origin. If the traffic police know of this origin, they can intervene at the spot and diffuse the situation to ensure easy flow of traffic.
Just imagine for a moment the confusion and frustration of untangling headphone cords. If you don’t work at the core point, you end up unnecessarily wasting time, even tangling it further. It’s the same with traffic.
Drones come in from the sky, trace the traffic and pinpoint the origin down to the exact vehicle in quick time. There are the first respondents and they are highly effective. Surrounding traffic police can be called in to report to the area and diffuse the escalating situation. A problem that would have resulted in an hour of traffic for a hundred cars can be localized and minimized to just a few minutes for not more than ten cars.
The first respondent badge of drones is more important in terms of emergencies. In cases of accidents of oil spills, drones can appear on the scene quickly giving the authorities first-hand ground-info for more learned actions. They can immediately align paramedics or towing cars at the location. They can set up directives for even managing oil-spills beforehand and ensure the safety of oncoming traffic.
And now… time for the top and most high-impact drone application for traffic management.
1. Planning future traffic-free routes and trouble-free parking
Traffic is directly proportional to population, infrastructure and economy. In a developing country, it’s constantly on the rise. Continuous suburban and tier-2 city development require heavy infrastructure investments. Recent Bharatmala Project has infused Rs. 2,43,415 crores ($34.46 billion) into the first phase of development of the road network. This is done to enable greater logistical support and economical back-up and impetus.
Drones are essential for proper city planning and development. Drone-led surveying and mapping can give precise 3D Digital Elevation Models (DEM) and vegetative evaluation for proper (and environmentally sound) city development. City blocks can be designed for effective and decentralized traffic flow.
Drones help in current city improvements like laying the groundwork or plans for perhaps a metro-line. They are integral to planning phase-wise strategizing traffic management across the timeline of the development. Drones are very important in inspecting the bridges and infrastructure for endurance testing. This can help in timely action and maintenance, avoiding possible disasters.
One, essentially parallel problem, is parking. Drones can help manage parking sites and space availability to direct vehicles. Improper parking causes unnecessary bottlenecks, which we all know about. How efficient would it be if drones enabled traffic personnel to just pre-emptively direct commuters to ideal parking spots? Dual payload drones can even use speakers to communicate the messages directly to commuters.
If goodwill was currency, these traffic management drones would rake in millions every minute. It’s one thing to somehow manage the current traffic crisis, it’s another thing to plan for the future to solve the problems of the present. Drones are the answer and traffic police around the world are adopting in at scale. It won’t be long when these would be a regular occurrence, bringing cutting down the aforementioned $87 billion annually lost to traffic by 20% or more, saving $17.2 billion (in one country alone). That’s worth the time and the upgrade to drone-led traffic management.