Helping Save Lives and Save Money

Between one and two million collisions between cars and large animals occur annually in the United States costing over $8 Billion. As a result, there is an increased focus on this issue on a state level, and state departments of transportation (DOTs) are exploring innovative new mitigation technologies, including animal detection and warning systems (ADS). These systems have been shown to reduce collisions by as much as 80% in countries such as Switzerland.

As part of its state-of-the-practice Road Ecology program and the encouraging findings of preliminary ADS testing, WTI has developed a Roadside Animal Detection System test-bed (RADS) at the Transcend research facility in Lewistown, Montana. The test-bed allows researchers to evaluate and compare the reliability of numerous systems at the same site under similar circumstances. "It's the first facility in the U.S. that has the capability and space to do side-by-side evaluations of the reliability of animal detection systems," said Principal Investigator Dr. Marcel Huijser. For state DOTs, the WTI facility represents an invaluable opportunity to test systems prior to deployment. Transcend can help DOTs to select the system that meets their needs and that performs well given the environmental conditions at the road section concerned, increasing the probability of a successful deployment that protects humans and animals from collisions.

Through initial research conducted in partnership with the Montana Department of Transportation and FHWA, WTI and Dr. Marcel Huijser investigated the reliability of nine different animal detection systems from five different manufacturers (Xtralis, ICx Radar systems [formerly STS], Calonder Energie, Camrix and Goodson [Trailmaster]). Researchers installed the nine ADS to detect horses and llamas that roamed in an enclosure and recorded the date and time of each detection for each system. The animal movements were also recorded by six infrared cameras with a date and time stamp. "By analyzing the images and the detection data, we were able to evaluate the system for a variety of reliability parameters," said Dr. Marcel Huijser; "of particular interest, five of the nine systems detected all or nearly all animal movements (>91%) with no or few false positives."

Researchers also investigated the effect of environmental conditions such as temperature, precipitation and wind on the reliability performance of the individual systems. The results suggested that the choice for certain detection technologies may depend on the site conditions at the road section selected for the potential deployment of an animal detection system.

For more information contact Marcel Huijser - (406) 994-7198.