Northern cooperation to research, develop and test smart solutions for winter roads
Climate change brings tangible challenges for winter road maintenance.
winters and fluctuating temperatures are no longer abnormal in the
North. Among other problems this generates, the changing weather
conditions put significant pressure also for rightly timed winter road
maintenance. In essence, the right maintenance actions need to be
performed at a right time, in a right place while the road weather, and
the road surface conditions, can rapidly change.
However, smart and digital solutions are expected to bring some
relief to the pain. They can aid in knowing what to do and when to do in
regards to the winter road maintenance.
More specifically, especially the real-time data collected from
vehicles nowadays enables supplementary and better information, for
maintenance decision-support, as the contractor is able to see the
slipperiness and ambient road weather conditions at a glance from a road
where such vehicle data exists. This way the contractor can optimize
its resources, carry out the right actions at a right time while
providing safety for the road-users.
Still the most promising part of vehicle-based data exists in the
data analytics and forecasts developed based on it. Generally, the whole
transport automation could greatly benefit from high-density road
A cooperation network to tackle the challenges
A project coordinated by Lapland University of Applied Sciences
(Lapland UAS) is bringing together a network of experts to research,
develop and test smart solutions for winter road maintenance, all the
way from the level of vehicle-mounted sensors to an end-user test
service that runs online.
- We want to bring critical mass to winter
transportation research here from the North in order to get results
that are more significant and to be competitive in European research
arenas. We are collecting data from Sweden and Finland and our goal is
to equip tens of vehicles from the main road network. We are not
limiting ourselves to one technology, but we are open for cooperation
and we are willing to test and compare different ones. We want to work
towards higher level of transport automation and an industrial IoT
system of systems in winter road maintenance.
Heikki Konttaniemi, Project manager, Lapland UAS
Foreca Ltd. and Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) bring in their
weather expertise. Using real-time data from vehicles is expected to
considerably improve the road weather now-casting and forecasting as
there would be the much-needed local observations from the road network
- We have faced an increasing need to
utilise vehicle-based observations to dramatically improve the forecast
accuracy not only for professional winter maintenance but also for
autonomous driving systems. In fact, we already have been able to
improve the forecasting resolution from 1 kilometre to 30 metres when
and where the mobile measurements are available.
Marko Moilanen, VP Business Development of Foreca
Improved maintenance planning
Moreover, it is not an easy task to plan the winter road maintenance.
In railway sector, the planning time spans are several months whereas
in roads the maintenance decisions have to be made quickly, within hours
or even in minutes.
The Operation & Maintenance team from Luleå University of
Technology is conducting research for improving the maintenance planning
in winter road conditions. The objective of this work is to come up
with an alert management model on most likely maintenance actions to be
carried out based on weather and road condition data.
Additionally, a framework to facilitate effective winter road
maintenance will be developed. Within the alert model development, good
correlation has been already found in different weather conditions and
Sensing the atmospheric icing on transport infrastructure
(Industrial Internet Applications in Winter Road Maintenance) will
also look at developing the existing sensor solutions. The Arctic
University of Norway (UiT) will complement the existing vehicle-mounted
sensors by providing their expertise in atmospheric icing detection
using the dielectric properties of atmospheric ice. A new hybrid
measurement technique will be developed for probing deeper into
atmospheric icing layer and minimizing some problems related to current
sensors. UiT has been conducting research on atmospheric icing sensor
technology since 2011.
WIRMA project runs between 2016-2019 and it has been directed EU-funding
from the Interreg Nord programme. Co-financing is granted by the
Regional Council of Lapland and Region Norrbotten.
The project leader is Lapland University of Applied Sciences. The
co-beneficiaries are Finnish Meteorological Institute, Foreca Ltd.,
Luleå University of Technology, Arctic University of Norway and
Casselgren Innovation AB. There are several co-operation partners from
private and public sector in the project.