Morcegos no Tráfego

Morcegos no tráfego is a multipurpose sensor network.

The original idea

In 2015, two friends and I developed a project for a sensor platform to measure the traffic flux. The project was developed in São Paulo , Brazil, funded by the Agency of Technological Development (ADESAMPA).

The prototype was compromised of a microcontroller with a radio equipment using the Zigbee protocol (a protocol which allows the devices to be connected in a mesh) and an ultrasonic sensor. The electronics were in a waterproof case equipped with solar panels that allowed the device to be autonomous. 

A broader purpose

During the development of the product, we realized that the city could be better managed with more information and that there were a large number of applications for data that is available on the streets. 

One of the most important piece of information on the streets is the traffic flux. Systems to measure traffic exist in almost all large cities, but the level of development in the technology used widely varies. Although São Paulo, Brazil, is a city that faces great losses in productivity in traffic, the traffic monitoring is sub-optimal and it is made primarily by tracking the velocity of buses and by manual counting of cars.  Therefore, we proposed that one of the priority applications of network of sensors and transceivers (devices able to receive and transmit data) is to monitor the traffic in São Paulo.

We advocate that sensor network infra-structure is essential for solving current problems of the city and will serve broader purposes in the future .

Applications of a transceiver network

A network of transceivers consists on the installation and maintenance of devices in a city that can transmit information in a secure and reliable manner. Such kind of network is an expensive and changing commitment for large cities, but we believe it can be installed from projects with a defined goal, such as measuring the traffic in São Paulo. This is a chance that cities have to capitalize of problems to solve other challenges of managing modern megalopolis.

These are some other challenges that might need a pre-existing network of sensors to be successful:

  • Organization of large events
    • The organization of large events, like the Olympics or the World Cup, require real-time coordination of the traffic. The management of these events can not be made based on long term averaged data, since these events represent exceptions in the traffic. Therefore, real time tracking of traffic in the case of special events can contribute to their success.
  • Autonomous cars
    • The success of autonomous cars depends first on the collection of information around it. Currently, cars are being developed by the information that can be collected from sensors in cars, but could they make use of sensors that are fixed on the streets? And if so, should this network belong to a single car maker? We believe our project can contribute with open data that will help to develop cheaper and safer self-driving cars.
  • Research about the effect of the city on health and risk assessment
    • In cities, we are surrounded by an increasingly complex environment. Often, the city environment is associated with factors there are a risk to our health, such as heating, air and sound pollution. At the same time, the city environment is not-homogeneous, that is, risks of pollution can be concentrated in certain regions. A network of pollution sensors can provide spacial and temporal information about pollution that can help to solve the problem in its origin, besides providing information that can help the management of public health and of insurance.

The roadmap

We believe the installation of a public network of transceivers is the most efficient way for cities to solve challenges that require extensive data. We envision this can be done by taking investment from oriented to solve large challenges, such as the traffic in São Paulo, but we believe it will serve broader purposes in the future. 

In order to do this, we are further developing the prototype.