Connected Vehicle Applications for Adaptive Overhead Lighting (On-demand Lighting)
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The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) has developed an on-demand roadway lighting system and has tested the system’s effect on driver visual performance. On-demand roadway lighting can dramatically reduce energy usage while maintaining or increasing vehicle and pedestrian safety. The system developed by VTTI uses connected vehicle technology (CVT), wireless lighting controls, LED luminaires, and a stand-alone processor on the Virginia Smart Road to sense vehicles and turn on roadway lighting only when needed. During this research project, the use of on-demand, or just-in-time, lighting was investigated with respect to assessing driver distraction, and to human factors, including a driver’s ability to visually detect and recognize on-road objects and pedestrians. The developed on-demand lighting system described above utilized dedicated short range communication (DSRC), connected vehicle infrastructure (CVI), and centralized wireless lighting controls, and was used with VTTI-developed in-vehicle instrumentation and custom software. The software allowed the study of forward preview time in terms of forward lighting distance needed for drivers to detect roadside pedestrians and hazards. Visual performance testing revealed a relationship between speed and the amount of forward lighting needed to detect pedestrians and hazards on the side of the roadway, and a small, but statistically insignificant, practical difference in visual performance between on-demand lighting and continuously-on lighting conditions. A survey of participant reactions indicated that the public generally accepts on-demand lighting and does not find it distracting as long as a minimum lighting condition is met. The survey also found that participants felt the system provided a safe driving environment. The main application for an on-demand lighting system would be on roadways with little traffic at night and higher accident rates, or higher conflict areas such as intersections, pedestrian crossings, and merge areas.