Freeway Incident Detection and Management using Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Automatic freeway incident detection is expected to reduce the response time and improve the efficiency of incident management. Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) platforms have been used to obtain video data and develop methodologies for incident detection (Liu et al., 2014, Lee et al., 2015). Traffic Management Centers (FHWA, 2016) also use video data to monitor freeway traffic operations and incident detection. Liability concerns regarding privacy of road users are always present. The FHWA report on TMC’s video recording and archiving, identifies technologies that can lower image resolution to remove private information (i.e., license plate). Sensing technologies (e.g., thermal sensors) can collect images for extracting traffic information without capturing private information. Limited studies report on the benefits of automatic incident detection with thermal images. UAVs have been used to monitor traffic operations at multiple locations, to cover longer freeway segments and interchanges at different angles and heights while collecting traffic information, making it cost-effective as compared to conventional sensing technologies (Jin et al., 2016). Furthermore, it has the potential of reducing secondary traffic incidents thus, improving overall safety of the freeway corridor being studied. Based on the research outcomes of Phase I study, the team will continue collecting field data from PR- 52 Highway in Phase II using both RGB camera and thermal sensors on UAV platform and using probe vehicles. The probe vehicle will be used to further compare the performance of traffic information extraction (e.g., speed) from analyzing thermal images. Also, the team will emphasize on developing automatic incident detection algorithms for thermal images collected from fixed (mounted) and moving stations (UAV platform). The team will also work with stakeholders from Puerto Rico DTPW, Metric Engineering, and Florida DOT District 7 to identify barriers and challenges of implementing emerging technologies in automatic incident detection and provide future research directions.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $140697
  • Contract Numbers:





  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    National Institute for Congestion Reduction

    University of South Florida
    Tampa, FL  United States  33620
  • Managing Organizations:

    National Institute for Congestion Reduction

    University of South Florida
    Tampa, FL  United States  33620
  • Project Managers:

    Li, Xiaopeng

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

    259, Avenida Alfonso Valdés Cobián, ,
    Mayagüez, Puerto Rico  United States  00681

    National Institute for Congestion Reduction

    University of South Florida
    Tampa, FL  United States  33620
  • Principal Investigators:

    Colucci Ríos, Benjamín

    Figueroa Medina, Alberto

    Zhang, Yu

    Kourtellis, Achilleas

  • Start Date: 20210601
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01784701
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Institute for Congestion Reduction
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551947136, 79075-14, 79075-15, 79075-00-A
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Oct 14 2021 12:13PM