StratoTrans: Roads & Traffic Management from the Sky
Taking stock of progress made in Year 1
Previous blog entries have reported the project Kick-off (ref SH 08-04-2020) and outlined what it aims to deliver in terms of drone solutions for roads infrastructure and traffic management (ref JCP 26-02-2020). They highlighted how the launch of Exodronic’s first fixed-wing drone – C2-L – https://exodronics.com/introducing-exo-c2-fixed-wing-aircraft/ has delivered an early assessment of end-users’ needs.
As StratoTrans approaches completion of the first year this article looks at the progress being made, highlights some intermediate results, and looks at where the project is heading next.
StratoTrans: a collaborative approach to innovation
This deeper understanding of end-users’ needs led Exodronics to revise the collaborations established with technology providers – Eurecat (Computer Vision-based image processing and Cybersecurity), CATUAV (drone manufacture) and Nexiona (ICT platform) – and to commission EACOM to develop a roadmap for establishing 4G and 5G IoT platform specifications.
The 2nd Semester Kick-off Meeting was held at Mas Vinyoles Hub – and via remote link – in early September. It was an opportunity to share results, to see the bigger picture of how work elements need to be integrated, AND to boost team spirits after six months of COVID-19-induced isolation.
Preliminary results: IoT platform takes shape… drone C2L+ emerges
Taking on-board EACOM’s recommendations, Exodronics has worked with CATUAV and Nexiona to define a set of software and hardware solutions that integrate the drone and its GCS (Ground Control Station) with the EXO Data Back-office: the IoT platform.
Achieving this result so early in the project opens up a wide range of technology test opportunities for Exodronics and its collaborators. One of the most remarkable things is that the hardware solution is small and light enough to fit inside an adapted version of the C2L drone. C2L+ is the development drone prototype that will be used to see how far the platform is able to extend the range of fixed-wing drone missions, and to see how much video and image data can be captured taking into account other project contributions.
Preliminary results: vehicle detection & classification
Participants at the 2nd StratoTrans meeting learned from Pedro Cavestany about the first results of the vehicle detection / classification algorithm being developed by Eurecat’s Deep Learning team – as applied to video data collected at a roundabout using a copter drone (see blog ref JCP 26-02-2020 and ref SH 08-04-2020).
As a traffic engineer, I have to say I was impressed to see the matrix of car movements growing as the video was running. These promising results are achieved using IOU Visual tracker, a technique requiring substantial image overlap i.e. a high frequency of video image collection. This (automatic traffic counting) may well be one of the services Exodronics will look to provide off-line.
Preliminary results: the CX hybrid drone
Participants also heard from Conrad Delgado of CATUAV about the options considered for developing a hybrid (fixed-wing VTOL) drone: EXO CX. The decision to develop and test a second prototype drone within StratoTrans is exciting for many reasons.
In terms of traffic management, EXO CX signals Exodronics’ intention to offer a full-range of drone-based solutions – including real-time video capability for monitoring traffic accident situations, etc. But in terms of teamwork, one can see that the larger hybrid drone (that VTOL can support) offers scope for integrating various innovations as the work addresses buffering, cybersecurity hardware, 5G and algorithms that save energy / maximise drone range. So, let me leave you with our 2nd meeting lunch photo and the idea that StratoTrans has plenty of ingredients to combine in Year 2…
|Project name||StratoTrans: monitoring roads from the Sky|
|Duration||01 October 2019 – 31 September 2021|
|Budget||500 000 €|
Author: Simon Hayes, Consultant, Global-Local Projects