LiDAR sensor technology on bus collects data for smart city applications

Buses move continuously through urban traffic daily, often in busy city centers and the main city arteries. Therefore, they are very well-suited for collecting data on urban traffic and assimilating valuable information for smart city applications. This information can then be used to analyze traffic volumes at certain locations and optimize traffic flow.

Consortium works on environment detection and wireless data transmission

This was precisely the data collected in Kiel last December when high-performance Blickfeld LiDAR sensors were mounted on a Kieler Verkehrsgesellschaft (KVG) bus. As part of the “LiDARshared” research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), a consortium has been working on real-time environment sensing using LiDAR to collect and wirelessly transmit the 3D data. Members of the consortium are Blickfeld, KVG, digital service provider ADDIX Internet Services, and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).

The research project collects and understands the requirements for sensor technology in smart city applications. LiDAR sensors have a particular advantage here, as they do not collect personal data of road users and therefore are inherently privacy-compliant, a significant problem when cameras are used in similar projects.

KVG bus collects data with LiDAR sensors

Last December, the KVG bus drove through the city, collecting high-resolution 3D data. The bus route also took it through the city center and a so-called shared space, where various types of road users move on an equal footing. In addition, a GPS RTK system was used to localize the bus with centimeter precision. DFKI merged the sensor data and recorded the type and number of road users, while ADDIX was responsible for data transmission at dedicated access points spread across the city. The information collected was analyzed and served as a basis for operational decisions. Using sensor technology to record road users’ behavior and the flow of traffic enables real-time analysis. This can be used to make decisions such as the deployment schedule of additional buses at peak times or adding additional stops. But beyond public transportation, the data also provides valuable information for traffic optimization in the city. Questions like adjustment of traffic light phases to reduce traffic build-up, regulation of the speed limit or a one-way street, risk analysis for cyclists or pedestrians, and assessment of road conditions; all can be answered using the invaluable data collected by LiDAR sensors.

The “LiDARshared” project is an important step in optimizing traffic in cities as it shows how buses can be equipped with high-tech LiDAR sensor technology to collect valuable data and assist in better understanding, planning, and regulation of traffic in cities.

Blickfeld partner Addix shows the scope of the project and how the application was tested before it was transferred to KVG buses:

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