Marsy Post Leader

When you think of challenges for drivers on Florida’s highways and interstates, rain and the resulting slippery conditions are probably the first thing that comes to mind. But other dangers affect motorists on a regular basis – fog and smoke.

These factors can hamper visibility even more than rain and occur often due to weather conditions and wildfires.

Melbourne-based Harris Corporation has a technology to address fog and smoke that takes real-time weather data and puts it to use to make driving safer.

Called Helios, the technology provides fast and accurate localized ground weather conditions to support mobility, safety and decision making. Using networked cameras, analytics instantly analyze and filter content to detect conditions and notify transportation officials of changes.

Helios also provides immediate confirmation of ground weather conditions and combines it with National Weather Service warnings and other relevant weather data to give a complete weather picture. Using Helios, transportation officials can warn motorists immediately of adverse conditions using road signs and other methods.

Florida was third behind Texas and California in fatal automobile accidents due to fog, according to the AAA Foundation in Washington, D.C., a not-for-profit, publicly supported charitable research and education organization. An October 2016 Florida State University study notes between 2002 and 2009 more people died in vehicle crashes related to smoke and fog conditions on Florida roads than the number of deaths in the state caused by hurricanes and lightening combined.

“Local weather conditions change very quickly, especially visibility due to fog, and those changes can easily fall through gaps in regional weather radar, which can result in poor road safety,” said Eric Dixon, Harris Helios product manager. “We can add value to this important research by sharing what we know through our analytics and from what our customers have learned from Helios.”

Harris has networked thousands of cameras across the United States and applied proprietary analytics that can see just as if you were standing at the location by pulling relevant information about road conditions off what the cameras view. The company is providing the technology to a host of industries from weather decision support to autonomous vehicles.

“Our real-time visibility road weather analytics convert images from simple CCTV traffic cameras into weather observations, basically turning a camera into a weather sensor,” Dixon said.

For more information visit https://www.harris.com/solution/helios-real-time-ground-weather-intelligence.