When a “What If” Idea Prompts an Exciting New Application of an Existing Technology

在Civiltech, 我们努力在工作方式上保持创新, 在我们的研究和设计解决方案, 以及我们对技术的使用. 最近, 这些创新节点相互碰撞, and a “what if” idea prompted a new use of an existing technology resulting in an exciting project outcome that proved beneficial to a client. 更具体地说, our Traffic and Phase I teams utilized our existing in-house drone program to gather data for a complex Origin-Destination (O-D) Study.

Civiltech was asked to perform the O-D Study as part of our 芬利路/贝尔蒙特路/奥格登大道交叉口 Phase I project for DuPage County. The purpose of the study was to evaluate potential route alternatives for traffic within the study area. This complex intersection experiences heavy existing traffic volumes that are expected to increase through the 2050 design year. The evaluations at this intersection required a consideration of the operation and travel patterns along the four roadways within the trapezoidal study area: Finley Road/Belmont Road, 奥格登大道, 十字街, 总部和路. The purpose of the O-D study was to gain an understanding of where vehicles are going when they travel through the intersection in relation to where they came from. This snapshot of the traffic patterns and trends was beneficial to developing meaningful alternatives for correcting the various problematic components of the intersection and study area.

传统, 进行这样的生理需氧量研究, our team would place staff in different locations at the perimeter of the study during the a.m. 和p.m. 高峰时期. They would dictate license plate numbers into voice recorders with other staff noting where vehicles entered the study area and where they exited. 这通常涉及6个或更多的工作人员. The data would then be compiled and analyzed using a labor and time intensive process.


Civiltech的 吉姆•伍兹P.E., PTOE floated the idea that if we could use our drone technology, not only would the exercise be less labor and time intensive, but the data would be captured on video and more accurate and traceable than if it were captured by people recording what they observed. Jim spoke to Adam Wuellner, CAD Manager and vanguard of Civiltech的无人机的能力, who thought the idea had merit and recommended working with two drones to capture different parts of the study area simultaneously. The team then proposed the idea to the client who agreed to give it a try.

亚当,一起 欧内斯特•威廉姆斯, 也是民用科技公司的无人机飞行员, wanted to capture the movements of all vehicles through 3 of the 4 intersections in the study area. They deployed two drones on opposite sides of the study area during a.m. 和p.m. 高峰时间. Adam then converted the drone recordings into a single video file for the entire study area. 民用技术交通工程师Anmol Shrivastava, P.E., PTOE was then able to compile the data supported by visual verification and analyze the traffic patterns for every traffic signal cycle for a full hour.

Certain challenges had to be addressed prior to this undertaking. A primary challenge was the battery life of the drones. 目的是拍摄一个小时的视频, 但无人机的电池寿命只有20-25分钟. The pilots dealt with this by flying in 20 minute intervals with two 5-minute break periods to swap out batteries.

There was also a concern as to whether the video quality would provide a useful end product since it would not be possible to capture license plates. 成像结果很清楚, and vehicles were easily tracked as they traveled through the intersections.

Weather is always a factor in flying the drones as well as the location of the sun. While the weather was fine for this study, sunrise and sunset presented a challenge. The team had to wait to schedule the study until sunrise occurred earlier than the a.m. 数据采集的高峰时段. 在此之前, 不仅会太黑, but it is also illegal to fly more than 30 minutes before sunrise or after sunset. This is a notable challenge as it limits the viability of utilizing drones in this capacity to about 6 months out of the year.

The Civiltech team felt that the exercise was a success 和proved beneficial to the client. Using the drones for the O-D Study provided a cost savings to the client by creating efficiency in the time needed to conduct the study and the minimal quantity of staff it required. 也, capturing a full hour of traffic movements on video resulted in more accurate and comprehensive data.

Anmol summed up the success of the experience and the enthusiasm of the team stating, “我觉得这是捕捉数据的未来. From the drone’s birds-eye view, the video captures all the data you need. You can see the collective functioning and intrinsic nature of the intersection and entire area.”