Vehicle Sensing and Communications using LED Headlights to Enhance the Performance of Intelligent Transportation Systems: Proof of Concept, Implementation, and Applications

Through the application of sensors, communications, and information technology, intelligent transportation systems (ITS) offer proven solutions and strategies for improving transportation safety, mobility, and environmental sustainability. However, existing vehicle-sensing/tracking and communications technologies suffer from certain limitations and disadvantages that can degrade the quality of information obtained from these systems in various environments. One possible solution is to use light emitting diode (LED) headlights, which are increasingly common to most vehicle manufacturers, to transmit information without a notable effect on the visibility of objects or the human eye. This can be made possible through modulation, where LED headlights can be switched on and off fast enough to transmit data. Therefore, LED vehicle headlights have great potential for sensing and communication purposes in ITS applications due to: 1) availability of the LEDs (hardware) in vehicles, 2) unique properties of visible light optical propagation, 3) immunity to the electromagnetic interference, 4) operation in unlicensed bands, 5) inherent safety and security, and 6) high degree of spatial confinement that allows high reuse factor. As such, this project will investigate the use of vehicle LED headlamp devices for improving the accuracy and reliability of traffic data measurements required for developing effective ITS technologies and solutions. The research team considers utilization of vehicle’s LEDs’ lights as a complementary and/or an alternative technology to current RF wireless communications and image-based data acquisition methods for ITS applications.