According to numerous Flemish pilot schemes, drones can be used to assess dangerous traffic conditions and aid cyclists on their journeys. The concept is accurate, cheap and fast and a notable step forward.
The research was first reported upon by HLN’s daily newspaper, VeloVeilig Vlaanderen, in collaboration with VTM Nieuws. Their audiences were asked to supply information on dangerous cycling situations, and this was assessed in line with government directions into ways to tackle any problems. The Mobility Innovative Approach was introduced whereby drones were launched to map the problem areas.
The drones took to the sky for an hour during the morning and evening rush hours, supplying images from a height of approximately 70 metres. Researchers have been able to accurately analyse the images from the drones, thanks to developed software that can distinguish between pedestrians, cyclists, cars, trucks and buses and determine their position and speed. Movements of each are relayed as coloured lines that supply accurate logistics data.
Tom Brijs, traffic expert at Hasselt University and part of the research team, commented, “Thanks to the drone images, we discovered, among other things, that in the morning almost 40 percent of the drivers drove faster than the permitted speed of 30 kilometres per hour, in the afternoon this was even 63 percent. We could also see that a striking number of children run across the street in a place that is not actually a crossing, and that they cycle on the footpath.”
This particular data led to changes in the crossing site for children and serves as a positive example of the research’s benefits.