Thursday, March 18, 2010

U.S. Offers Grants for Research Using Weather Data to Improve Road Safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation will sponsor up to seven innovative ideas for using the new Clarus live weather information system to improve roadway safety during severe weather. The department intends to provide up to $80,000 per award in an open competition.

Launched in 2004, Clarus provides near real-time atmospheric and pavement observations from more than 2,000 environmental sensor stations and 45,000 road sensors deployed by state departments of transportation. The result is a comprehensive picture of the weather along the nation's roads that is available to any user, at anytime, anywhere in the U.S.

Transportation managers and weather providers in 36 states and three Canadian provinces currently contribute data to Clarus and use it to make critical decisions.

The incentive program was announced by Research and Innovative Technology Administrator (RITA) Peter Appel, who believes that by offering researchers and other innovators full access to Clarus' live weather data, the department can tap into the program's vast potential.

"Applications developed using Clarus data could help someone decide not only whether to grab an umbrella, but also when they should travel and what routes they should take," said Appel. "This competition will lead to new safety products and ideas that are bound only by the limits of our imagination."

"Nearly a quarter of all vehicle crashes happen when severe weather strikes, and many of those crashes can be prevented using available technology," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Having access to highly accurate, live weather information will raise the level of safety on our roads and save lives."

The Federal Highway Administration's Road Weather Management Program, in conjunction with the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office, established the Clarus Initiative in 2004 to reduce the impact of adverse weather conditions on surface transportation users. Proposals will be accepted until April 14, 2010. Additional information on how to submit a proposal can be found at, Solicitation number DTFH61-10-R-00015.

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