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Intelligent road studs
INCLEMENT WEATHER and darkness often make it difficult for a driver to see where the road bends. But new solarpowered “smart” road studs offer some illumination.
SolarLites, developed by a British company called Astucia, have a built-in solar panel and light emitting diode (LED) technology. A special technology is used to convert daylight on the solar panels into stored energy for lighting the way at night.
The studs automatically illuminate from dusk to dawn and provide visibility for up to a half a mile. This, says the company, is 10 times greater than the traditional, retro- reflective road stud that is limited by the headlight beam of the vehicle, which at best has a useful range of around 295 feet.
The increased visibility of the SolarLites gives drivers advance warning and improved preview time of the road ahead, allowing them to see sharp bends, dips in the road and other hazards. Driver reaction time of potential hazards on the road ahead, according to Astucia, is increased from 3.2 seconds to more than 30 when driving at 60 mph.
Research carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory shows that when the smart studs are used, drivers also are significantly less likely to cross the center line of a road or move out of lane on a dual-lane highway. Drivers also brake earlier and more consistently.
The greater number of visual references also means that drivers tend not to speed into the corners, the research found. In addition, because the SolarLites are flush fitting studs, they are also safer for cyclist and motorcyclists. The studs are currently being used in the United Kingdom.