Fleet of Snow Sensors Assists Fleet of Snow Plows


Effective snow and ice removal depends on knowing the conditions of roadways in advance of a coming storm. Harnessing this information in an effective and efficient manner allows MassDOT to adequately plan their counter measures and schedule treatments of roadways. The Evaluation of Portable Road Weather Information Systems analyzed two roadside collection systems to determine which best suits the needs of MassDOT.  These roadside systems have been shown to provide accurate and reliable weather and surface condition information to DOTs enhancing the monitoring of weather events.

The two roadside systems analyzed in this report were constructed to MassDOT guidelines, and measure the road surface, temperature of the road, precipitation, wind, pressure, humidity, and provided real time images of the road for further analysis. Providing sufficient power throughout the day and night was a key challenge for this research, as the portable monitors had to function around the clock to provide the best data. Thus each sensor unit was attached to solar panels, with accompanying battery packs to provide an ample supply of power.

The report outlines the recommended distance of sensors from roadways for accurate and safe results, and highlighted that the data is collected and transmitted over Verizon’s 4G network. This research was considered a success, as the prototypes developed during the initial phases met the requirements for data collection as outlined by MassDOT, prompting the agency to invest in a fleet of similar sensors to monitor roadways throughout the Commonwealth. This fleet of sensors has the ability to report road conditions in real time to decision makers at MassDOT, enabling quick and effective response to weather related incidents along the roadways of the Commonwealth.