The driving public hungers for better road weather information

The driving public hungers for better road weather information

Sheldon Drobot, scientific program manager for the Weather Systems and Assessment Program within the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Research Applications Lab, has a Ph.D. in Geosciences from the University of Nebraska. He oversees a group of scientists and engineers examining ways to mitigate the impact of adverse weather on transportation systems. These efforts include determining the viability of using vehicles as mobile weather collection platforms and developing decision-support systems to help transportation agencies better plan and account for weather variability in their daily operations.

What does your company do?

With partial funding and support from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration IntelliDriveSM initiative and direction from the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management Program, the NCAR is conducting research to assess the use of vehicles as mobile weather platforms. This includes determining the accuracy and bias of vehicle-based measurements, developing a Vehicle Data Translator (VDT) that incorporates vehicle-based measurements of the road and surrounding atmosphere with other, more traditional weather data sources, and creating road and atmospheric hazard products for a variety of users.

What is your USP?

NCAR is a Federally-Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), an independent, nonprofit entity sponsored and funded by the U.S. Government to meet specific technical needs that cannot be met by any other single organization. Our USP is that we develop solutions to mitigate the adverse impacts of weather on the nation’s transportation system, and then turn the research and development over to the private sector, universities, and other entities for use in real-world solutions.

What partnerships are you currently forging?

We work closely with the Research and Innovative Technology Administration and the Federal Highway Administration as well as State DOTs. We also have strong relationships with a number of universities. We continue to look for partnerships with interested private sector partners. A recent milestone for our Government-NCAR team is the successful development of the prototype VDT. We will be displaying an enhanced version at the Telematics Detroit event in the Exhibit space.

Which trends will impact the industry the most in the coming years and why?

We believe connectivity will be a defining element in the coming decade. The ability to use your vehicle to collect environmental and other information; to interact with other vehicles and infrastructure; and to receive information on current and anticipated driving conditions is nothing less than revolutionary.

You are an integral part of our upcoming flagship Telematics Detroit event. What key topics will you be discussing with the industry at the show?

We will focus on discussing our new research related to mobile vehicles and weather information. Recent studies indicate the driving public hungers for better road weather information, and we’ll be both demonstrating our recent progress and looking for partners at the Telematics Detroit event.

Which apps, services, cars are on your 2010 wish list?

We’d love to see more open access to vehicle parameter identification (PID) elements. If this were done in a smart way, it would open the door to massive growth in apps and services that will increase safety and mobility and lessen the environmental impacts of transportation, three tenets of the IntelliDriveSM program. More simply stated, it will enhance our driving experience.

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Research Applications Lab will be speaking at Telematics Update’s 10th annual Telematics Detroit 2010 Conference & Exhibition.

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