Traffic safety is a serious issue around the world. That’s why automotive manufacturers, infrastructure agencies, and local and federal transportation departments are always looking for new ways to improve driving practices and road quality.
Lidar technology is utilized in many major traffic safety endeavors. Using lidar sensors, we can revolutionize vehicle safety features, traffic monitoring and management, road maintenance, and so much more. Lidar is a versatile solution that provides fast, accurate, and comprehensive data, making it an invaluable technology for a wide range of applications. Read on to discover just some of the many ways lidar technology improves traffic safety.
A lot of unexpected things can happen on the road. From jaywalkers stepping out onto city streets to someone running a red light in front of you, it’s crucial to stay aware of your surroundings and react quickly when something happens. As such, vehicle safety systems—including features in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)—require technology that can detect, identify, and react to sudden hazards quickly and safely.
Lidar provides a vehicle’s safety features with real-time data. By gathering millions of data points per second, lidar compiles a comprehensive data point cloud that creates a precise, real-time visualization of the surrounding environment. When that jaywalker steps onto the street or that vehicle pulls out in front of you, the lidar system detects it and makes a split-second, informed decision to react appropriately. Quick and safe reactions allow for more reliable safety systems that protect drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and everyone else on the road.
The need for traffic safety doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. In fact, nighttime only emphasizes the need for reliable safety systems. Driver visibility worsens in the dark, but lidar systems continue to generate comprehensive, real-time data for a precise visual of the area surrounding the vehicle.
This gives lidar an advantage over safety systems that rely solely on camera-based sensors. Low light—as well as other poor visibility conditions such as rain or fog—hinder image quality for cameras. Safety systems are less accurate as a result. Lidar, on the other hand, continues to perform well in low-visibility conditions, giving drivers precise and accurate object detection when they need it most.
One of the most substantial ways lidar technology improves traffic safety is through vehicle safety features. ADAS with features such as lane centering, blind spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking—which use lidar sensors to monitor the area around the vehicle—help make driving safer and reduce traffic accidents. For example, lidar’s ability to detect even minor details in the environment allows the system to track lane markings and use that information to keep your vehicle safely within the lane.
Preventing accidents is crucial, but lidar also helps by reducing the number of almost-accidents that occur on the road. Even if no one is injured, near-misses can slow down traffic, put vehicles at risk, and lead to driver stress and frustration while on the road.
Consider this scenario: a driver tries to change lanes while another vehicle is in their blind spot. The driver notices the danger and corrects course at the last second. No one is injured and no collision occurs, but both drivers swerve or slam on their brakes. Behind them, other drivers also brake. This creates a ripple effect that disrupts traffic in the area and creates anxiety and frustration that can turn into road rage down the line.
If the driver had lidar-powered blind spot monitoring, they wouldn’t have tried to change lanes. No one would need to brake hard or swerve to avoid danger, meaning traffic could continue smoothly and comfortably.
All of the above benefits of lidar—better visibility, enhanced safety features, and fewer traffic accidents—promote convenience as well as safety. These advantages help minimize traffic disruption, lessen congestion on the road, and reduce road rage.
Additionally, features like adaptive cruise control help create a smoother driving experience. The result is less harsh braking or turning, which helps even out traffic to prevent major traffic jams. At the same time, smoother driving promotes better fuel efficiency and lowers general vehicle wear and tear. All of these benefits make roads safer while enabling a more comfortable and convenient overall experience for drivers.
The benefits of lidar extend beyond vehicle safety itself. Lidar technology also provides a reliable way to monitor road conditions and accurately detect flaws or hazards that pose a risk to drivers.
Cities that use lidar sensors to monitor road quality can collect real-time data that helps keep track of sudden obstacles, such as debris that fell from a vehicle or blew onto the road. Quick detection of these hazards allow road maintenance teams to quickly handle the issue and keep roads clear and safe.
Meanwhile, lidar’s incredible precision also helps by detecting smaller flaws in the road, such as cracks or small potholes. By catching these minor issues early, cities can perform maintenance before the flaws turn into major hazards that are more costly and time-consuming to fix.
Cities can also use lidar sensors in speed detection systems and other traffic monitoring solutions. Applications like this help provide up-to-date data about daily traffic patterns. With this information, cities can make informed decisions about traffic enforcement and local safety initiatives. For example, setting up a lidar system within a school zone helps cities enforce speed limits more successfully in that area.
Real-time lidar data can also help improve traffic lights and other traffic control systems. A traffic light that incorporates data from nearby lidar sensors can automatically adjust the timings of its signals to accommodate current conditions. If more traffic is coming from a specific direction, the system can create a longer green light to help ease congestion and allow for a smoother traffic flow. This helps minimize traffic jams during rush hours, which in turn reduces road rage and creates a safer, smoother, and more efficient driving experience for everyone involved.
Are you interested in learning more about lidar’s role in vehicle safety? Hesai Technology is involved in engineering cutting-edge lidar systems for truck safety sensors and other vehicle safety applications. Visit us today to explore our lidar solutions and see what the future holds for lidar technology.