Rouse Awards: Tom Davies’ ingenious smart road stud design
Tom Davies (Upper Sixth) designed and built an innovative responsive road stud to win the Rouse Artefact Award.
His investigation looked into how an effective use of smart cat’s eyes could reduce the risk of road traffic accidents in developing countries.
He decided to try to come up with a solution having seen problems with road safety first hand while visiting family near to the Indonesian city of Bandung.
Tom said: “The quality of the roads wasn’t good, but it was really shocking how bad the road safety was. There was little signage and it was quite chaotic, so that’s what inspired me to look into this.”
Having found the dimensions for regular cat’s eyes, Tom sketched his design and built it using a 3D printer before programming in the necessary code to bring his creation to fruition.
As with passive road studs, Tom’s design had a retroreflective strip, but also included censors picking up on sound, temperature and light and LEDs to convey information to drivers.
On how it worked, he explained: “If the road temperature is below four degrees Celsius, they will flash blue occasionally to indicate there could be ice, or if it’s too dark, white light will come on to illuminate the road. If a car gets too close to the next car ahead, they will flash red.”
While researching his project, Tom found evidence that installation of intelligent road studs had already made a huge impact on improving road safety on the R66 route near Durban in South Africa.
He said: “It significantly reduced accidents and the cost of installing them was six times less than the costs of the road accidents in terms of the subsequent clean-up and repairs afterwards, as well as healthcare, so it was extremely cost effective.”
Such schemes are rare in developing countries though, and Tom felt more research would need to be done into how it could be made economically viable for smart road studs to be mass produced and installed.
He added: “Funding is obviously an important part and you would expect governments to do that, but you could also have sections of a road sponsored by a car company as it would be good PR for them if they could improve road safety.”