Drones monitor traffic on Mumbai-Pune expressway

By : |August 29, 2016 0

Drones were used for the first time on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway to monitor vehicular traffic over the weekend resulting in 15 drivers being fined during the exercise for cutting lanes and over-speeding.

“After receiving directives from the Maharashtra government, we conducted the demonstration for the first time and used two drones in ghat section (between Lonavala exit and Khalapur toll plaza) to monitor vehicular traffic on both the sides,” said Amol Tambe, Superintendent of Police (Highways), Pune Region.

Fifteen truck drivers were fined for cutting lanes after aerial pictures of lane-cutting by these drivers were captured by the drones. The expressway, a 95-km-long, six-lane road that connects the two cities, usually sees heavy traffic over the weekend and has been witnessing a rising number of deaths in accidents recently. The drones, which have been deployed on a trial basis, monitored traffic on the expressway from 12 pm to 4 pm during the weekend rush-hour.

The drone monitoring exercise, however, did have its limitations. The video footage images and still images produced by camera deployed on drones on Sunday (when it was raining) were very blur, pointing to its inefficacy during rain. “The purpose of the drone testing exercise was to see the feasibility of the device during different conditions. During the tests we found that cameras installed on drones cannot work when it’s raining,” said Amol Tambe.

According to him, in a report to be submitted to the government soon, the state highway authorities are likely to underline these problem areas in the implementation of drone monitoring exercise.

Samadhan Pawar, the superintendent of police of highway traffic, said, “We used the drones and the cameras to zero in on the errant motorists in a pilot project mainly in the ghat sections of the Expressway. However, the cameras had lots of limitations. They barely work in rains and fog. There were no night vision cameras and hence no action could be taken once it was dark.”

Since the durability of the camera batteries was just 15 minutes, they had to be replaced with new ones every time they were discharged.

“Financial aspect is also one of the important things to be considered. The range of one camera was just 4 km. So we will need a huge number of these to cover the 94-km stretch. Since we conducted this drive as a pilot project, Aerial Mappers Pvt Ltd provided us the drones for free. So we did not have to spend on them,” Pawar said.

Another issue with the drone is its height. During low visibility hours, drones may not work from the high altitude and devices operating on low altitude which can cause a distraction to drivers.

Thus, it might still take longer before drones become a permanent part of the highway police machinery.

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