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National Technical University of Athens PTW research using DataFromSky

The PhD candidate Emmanouil Barmpounakis and his supervisors Dr. John Golias and Dr. Eleni Vlahogianni from The Department of Transportation Planning and Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens are using DataFromSky to study Powered Two Wheelers’ (PTW) overtaking phenomena using the principles of Game Theory:

Both the PTW driver and the driver of the vehicle being overtaken are assumed to be rational decision-makers that develop strategies, while commuting in urban environment, trying to get the best outcome for their decisions. These strategies may be cooperative or not based on both drivers’ choices with respect to the distances and safety gaps they leave from the lead vehicle. Since PTW follow unorthodox trajectories, especially in an urban arterial, having detailed naturalistic data is essential, and this is how DFS comes in handy!

We are always looking for partners from academic sphere. Are you a researcher in traffic or civil engineering? Don’t hesitate to contact us!

This video is an excerpt with no motorcycles present. You can see some new features of the Viewer: a lateral acceleration heatmap, distance measurement, and a testing bounding box makes a guest appearance too. Heatmap overlay is a completely new feature: When activated, you can configure it to display a scalar value. You can currently select from various speed, count and acceleration types of quantity. The color map and its value range are configurable as well.

References:

  1. Barmpounakis, Emmanouil N., Eleni I. Vlahogianni, and John C. Golias. “A Game Theoretic Approach to Powered Two Wheelers Overtaking Phenomena.” Transportation Research Board 94th Annual Meeting. No. 15-1425. 2015.
  2. Barmpounakis, E.N., Vlahogianni, E.I., & Golias, J.C. (2016). Intelligent Transportation Systems and Powered Two Wheelers Traffic, IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, 17(4), 908-916. http://doi.org/10.1109/TITS.2015.2497406
  3. Barmpounakis, E. N., E. I. Vlahogianni, and J. C. Golias. “Vision-based multivariate statistical modeling for powered two-wheelers maneuverability during overtaking in urban arterials.” Transportation Letters: The International Journal of Transportation Research (2015): 1942787515Y-0000000020
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DataFromSky in Danish TV and Czech press

DataFromSky has in COWI an exclusive partner in Denmark and other Nordic countries since March this year. COWI’s use of drones for traffic data collection and analysis using DataFromSky has been now covered by DR, the Danish national broadcasting company. In prime time, no less!

You can watch the evening news video. The drone part starts at 6:13. Apart from showing the drone operations and interviewing various officials (all in Danish), you can see a beautiful example of DataFromSky footage there, too – although with all branding zealously removed except for the television logo. The effect of now-implemented and released anonymization is plainly visible there nicely: In the TV low picture quality it looks almost as tilt-shift photography. This is also an opportunity to take a closer look at some real hardware used practically daily for traffic analysis recording.

COWI mentioned this on their City Creators blog in article Droner flyver ind på nethinden (Drones fly into the view), where they previously introduced DataFromSky. They also mention that the commercial drone sector could employ as much as 15 thousand people just in Denmark – whether that figure also originates from the news video we do not know.

Czech articles

An article titled “Světová stopa mladých českých podnikatelů” (The World footprint of young Czech enterpreneurs) was published by the startup competition Nastartujtese.cz across various media, both online and in print. The article showcases the top 3 projects of the last year’s copetition (we were second) and invites submissions to this year’s round. It’s great that traffic safety is taken seriously and that we are among the Czech companies that leaver some impact on the world.

The two immediately reachable versions of the article are these by Podnikatel.cz and Peníze.cz, both in Czech. The article is scheduled to appear in print media within a few weeks, too.

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It’s time to learn!

Seminar invitation headings DataFromSky technology has added new possibilities to transport and road fields. It highlights a great need of people working in these fields – to be equipped with adequate tools for conducting surveys and collecting data. The purposes for which such data is collected places severe requirements on precision and reliability. Choosing the right methods and devices used for traffic monitoring and vehicle counting is a question of selecting the best ones for a given environment.

All of this will be part of discussion in the seminary with title “Methods and techniques for the monitoring and management of road traffic” presented by Eng. Andrea Marella (Trafficlab) and Eng. Erik Sferco (Trieste University), that will take place on Monday, 16th May at the Trieste University.

Program for the whole day is available in the following link, with an explanation on how to participate for those interested.

pdf Locandina-DataFromSky.pdf

A few weeks ago, our Italian partner Eng. Morini from society TAU participated in a meeting day with theme “Advanced applications in road planning: survey and analysis of the traffic and the video images produced by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and “Big data” dataset obtained from cellular networks”, where he spoke about “advanced systems for survey and analysis of traffic and mobility in urban and suburban areas by processing of video images recorded thanks to flight and aerial platforms”. More information about the event is available at the following link (Italian only):

pdf 1697.pdf

The rising interest shown by universities and official engineering associations demonstrates the growing confidence in DataFromSky and understanding what it is. We hope that these meetings could let traffic technicians know how powerful and innovative tool we are working on.

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Road safety in EU

A month ago, EU Observer, an “independent online newspaper which values free thinking and plain speech“, published an article with a provocative title “Why is road safety not higher on EU agenda?“.

Chart of fatalities on EU roads
Fatality rate development in the EU

Disregarding the somewhat sensationalistic title, the article draws attention to an important fact: While the union pledged in 2011 to halve traffic-related deaths by 2020, the reduction is not exactly going on any more. In the press releases “Road Safety: new statistics call for fresh efforts to save lives on EU roads” and “2015 road safety statistics: What is behind the figures?” the European Commission noted that its road are the safest in the world, but there has been no progress on this front since 2014 – two years in a row. The European Transport Safety Council seconded this with a press release of their own, “Urgent action needed on road safety as new figures show increase in deaths”.

Details of road fatalities by country - chart
Fatalities per million inhabitants by country

Diving into the wealth of charts accompanying the Commission’s press release, it is clear that the EU is divided between west and east in this regard, too. Should the eastern part somehow catch up, the targets would look far more reachable. Yet more alarming part of the statistics is that the vulnerable road users – pedestrians and bicyclists – saw hardly as much of improvement as vehicle occupants. Worth mentioning is that the statistics related to injuries have started being reported in a common format, which will enable better tracking of these injuries.

The various sources mention several ways forward, including passing new legislative – increasing protection of vulnerable road users and revisiting the 2008/96/EC directive on infrastructure. The ETSC specifically calls out delays to a number of such changes as critical. Apart from these, cooperative ITS is mentioned, and Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport, adds promotion of self-driving vehicles.

At DataFromSky, we take safety seriously, especially that of vulnerable road users. We are steadily working towards making our services and products better to help understand road users’ interactions – not just for vehicular traffic, but others too. We too hope that technology can contribute to these efforts. We do not mean better cars, however. Better understanding of what happens on the road, using methods exploiting IT and otherwise austere with physical resources: that is what we hope for – and what we bet on, too.

Sources:

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Excel exports

We would like to announce a new great feature – reports that can be opened in the most widespread spreadsheet editor of all time (so far). Yes, Viewer can now export a complete Excel sheet listing all the possible things you want to know, starting with turning movements and ending with with an image of the annotations. If you do not use Excel, no reason to be sad – the reports are completely readable in LibreOffice, too, and probably in most other spreadsheet editors.

As an example, here is a video from EXPO Milano. Not exactly from the exhibition though, rather from a nearby roundabout during afternoon. This is another video shot from a building, this time at a very poor angle – one of the legs is completely hidden. You can see easily that the roundabout is severely congested in the first few minutes of video. Looks like an overhaul might be needed…

The video included here is a short example, the total recording includes over sixteen hundred vehicles. Anyway, you are invited to take a look at what an excel report from such a place looks like:

XLSX Excel report from the video

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Video from Iceland

EFLA, an engineering company from Iceland, asked us for a demo of DataFromSky. They selected a roundabout in Selfoss, a town in Southern Region which is its administrative center. Its growth started after construction of a bridge over the river Ölfusá – the bridge that you see in the video is its later replacement. The roundabout also lies on the Icelandic Ring road.

In this demonstration survey, we tracked 300 vehicles which travelled 57 893 meters in total, averaging 193 m per vehicle. The average speed was 27 kph.

All commercial use of DataFromSky in the Nordic countries is handled by COWI, and key personnel can be contacted directly:

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Planned features

Bounding boxes mockup

We wish to share a couple of interesting features that will be coming to DataFromSky soon. Currently, DataFromSky understands vehicles only as points. This is an outcome of using the particular technology which we chose. However, this results in one very important drawback: We can’t tell real distance between vehicles. Incidentally, we hope for many applications, which would need precise measurement of distances starting from the actual metal, not an ideal point. After this introduction, it should come as no surprise that we are working on detection of vehicle bounding boxes. This will enable much better distance measurement for safety evaluations.

Another improvement in the pipeline is addition of anonymization functions. As you can imagine, aerial recording in urban areas results in a lot of areas being exposed, while they are assumed to be hidden from sight. To protect privacy, DataFromSky will allow marking of areas for blurring or blanking.

We hope to add this soon, so stay tuned for new versions!

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DroneBlog and Intertraffic Amsterdam

DroneBlog logo DroneBlog covered us a few days ago in a post called DataFromSky offers traffic analysis of aerial video data. Given that the blog is mostly for the drone sector, there is a lot of text dealing with traffic data collection basics and particulars. There is a bit of history behind DataFromSky as well – how a group of computer vision specialists got into traffic analysis.

Intertraffic logo In other news, we are at Intertraffic in Amsterdam and the concentration of minds and companies is spectacular. We hope to get some newsworthy partnerships and arrangements!

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Partnerships in Italy and Switzerland

A few days after announcing the previous business agreement, we are happy to announce also our new partnerships for the Italian and Swiss markets.

Partnerships in Italy

Trafficlab (part of the Progectolab group) is DataFromSky partner since half 2014 and is now the Official Distributor for Italy and Switzerland of the DataFromSky market. After a great promotion and sponsorship in Italy (Dronitaly 2014, Smart Mobility Forum 2014 and 2015) we are getting great satisfaction from our major trading partner. After a start slowed by regulatory difficulties for the overflight of drones in urban area, now the reliefs start increasing day by day.

But the news does not end here. Recently two exclusive contracts with ESSE8 society and TAU have been signed. The Italian market so increases with two important business partners who will play the roles of regional exclusive sale representative. The ESSE8 engineering company has an exclusive contract until 2017 for the Veneto and Campania regions and also cooperates on the development of software applications for road safety. The company TAU specialized in monitoring and traffic simulations, has also signed an exclusive agreement until 2017 for the Lombardia Region, and is holding a balloon specifically developed for aircraft traffic surveys.

For all the Italian and Swiss market informations you can contact the Trafficlab company at the following addresses:
DataFromSky Official Distributor for Italy and Switzerland, Andrea Marella, andrea.marella@datafromsky.com

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High-rise used for traffic monitoring in Trieste

We have been recently asked by a student of civil engineering from University of Trieste to analyze a video for his master’s thesis titled “The Design of Road Intersection“.

With this video, we can present another mode of use for DataFromSky, a first for us: Video shot from buildings. As you can imagine, the image is stable as a rock, and not too bad for just 45 meters at 13th floor. The covered area is rather small, but that does not matter much here. The area is quite confined anyway, with all the buildings around. One of the roads almost immediately disappears in a tunnel. To quote the author:

The analysed crossroad is an urban traffic-light intersection, located in the suburbs of the Municipality of Trieste. The intersection presents a substantial traffic flow especially in the morning and the evening hours. Most of the inhabitants which live in the suburbs of Trieste cross this road intersection to go to work, to school and to university.

Gate placement – click for Google maps. The building with camera is on the right.
Annotations

Origin-destination matrix

Exit gate 8 Exit gate 9 Exit gate 12 Exit gate 14 Exit gate 16 Exit gate 17
Entry gate 7 0 0 0 504 673 0
Entry gate 10 0 0 7 0 1 103
Entry gate 11 1 2 1 2 8 121
Entry gate 13 555 21 0 45 285 0
Entry gate 15 676 35 40 136 1 164

You can also take a look at the thesis abstract written by Ing. Erik Sferco:
PDF English version
PDF Italian version

In this survey, we tracked 3 617 vehicles which travelled 338 898 meters in total. Length of the analyzed video was about one hour. We are looking for partners from academic sphere as well! If you want to utilize DataFromSky approach in your research, do not hesitate to contact us.

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