AI-Powered Parapets Light the Way to Safer Cities

Two years ago, researchers from the ai2 Institute at Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) teamed up with Metalesa to launch collaborative efforts yielding innovative road safety solutions.

AI-Powered Parapets Light the Way to Safer Cities

Image Credit: Universitat Politècnica de València

These include crash cushions equipped to notify authorities in case of accidents, tunnel, and underpass wall claddings enhancing road safety, and urban parapets capable of detecting risk scenarios and alerting users.

Marketed by Metalesa, this equipment integrates software and electronics, with design input from the ai2 Institute team. It also features external sensors for visibility, temperature, air quality, and radar and thermal cameras. The equipment transitions from passive to active road safety provision with this array of components.

It proactively identifies risk scenarios, alerting road users, traffic management centers, police, and other relevant entities to ensure enhanced safety measures.

A couple of years ago, Metalesa contacted us to incorporate digital technology into their products with one objective: to improve safety on our roads. We evaluated different solutions and developed prototypes that today are already tangible in products marketed by the company under the brand PLUG&META.

Francisco Blanes, Researcher, ai2 Institute, Universitat Politècnica de València

The First Intelligent Parapet in the World

Metalesa and UPV's joint team defined ten distinct scenarios and behaviors for the intelligent urban parapet. This enables its lighting to activate based on specific risk situations.

For example, if a traffic jam on a stretch of road enters the city, the parapet lights up and signals the preceding stretch to warn drivers of such a situation, thus facilitating mobility and traffic management. For example, if a vehicle is detected approaching at an excessive speed or if a person is crossing a pedestrian crossing, the parapet also lights up to warn to avoid an accident. In addition, this smart parapet can also collect information on CO2 levels and send it, along with the rest of the variables, to a data collection platform hosted in the cloud.

Francisco Blanes, Researcher, ai2 Institute, Universitat Politècnica de València

Last December, the inaugural urban parapet featuring the groundbreaking PLUG&META technology was installed on the Bimil-learn bridge in Elche. This milestone marks the global debut of a parapet boasting such intelligence and complexity.

It is one of the most emblematic bridges in the city. The more than 900 installed meters of our system provide many advantages to protect users from, for example, run-offs or run-overs; it is a new paradigm regarding containment systems and equipment for roads and urban areas. It takes them to another level, making them an active agent in the smart city ecosystem.

César Valero, Director, Digital and Technological Innovation, Metalesa

Crash Cushions in Valencia

The same technology has been implemented in Valencia's impact attenuator, notably in front of the Nuevo Centro bus station.

In the event of an accident, and thanks to the versatility of the same technology, this device immediately alerts the local police, thus facilitating the management of this risk situation,” notes César Valero. The intelligent lining for tunnels can alert both users and authorities to potential road safety hazards within these environments.

The collaboration between the ai2 Institute team and Metalesa has made it possible to include digital technology in transport infrastructures, making them intelligent and thus contributing to improving their safety and, above all, saving lives. We are confident that this is the future of road safety equipment; the Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility has selected this concept to test it within its Innovative Public Procurement process,” added César Valero.

The Metalesa team, in collaboration with UPV, will showcase these innovative infrastructures at Intertraffic 2024 in Amsterdam, held from April 16 to 19. This event will feature the latest advancements in transport infrastructure, innovative road safety solutions, intelligent mobility, and efficient traffic management.


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