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                             Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Troy, N.Y. -  12/5/2018

LRC Develops Wireless-Controlled Warning Lights for Worker Safety

Work zones, accident sites and other roadside incident locations are often chaotic environments where construction workers and first responders are at increased risk of injury or fatality from vehicle collisions. These locations feature flashing warning lights that notify approaching drivers about the potential danger, but rarely provide useful information about visual guidance and at night, can create glare that often makes workers more difficult to see. To address these visual challenges and help reduce risks to roadway and emergency workers, the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a prototype system using wireless communications that allows a user to adjust the intensity, flash frequency, and sequencing of flashing warning lights.
In conjunction with a tablet-based controller using wireless communication and global positioning system (GPS) sensors, the locations of individual lights can be plotted on a map. Knowing their locations, a user can select lights to flash in sequence, for example, to help approaching drivers identify and navigate lane closures. Further, the sequential flashing pattern can update itself in real time if lights are moved as conditions change on the road. Light sensors within the lights can sense ambient light and adjust intensities to lower values at night to avoid creating glare.
An overview of the system design is found in a technical paper published by the Society of Automotive Engineers and co-authored by LRC researchers Mark Rea, Nicholas Skinner and John Bullough. The paper is entitled "A Novel Barricade Warning Light System Using Wireless Communications" and is available online at: The paper also includes a link to a short descriptive video, which can be viewed at:
Development of the warning light system was supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) under Grant R01OH010165 to Mark Rea, principal investigator for this project. 

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC conducts research in solid-state lighting, light and health, transportation lighting and safety, energy efficiency, and plant pathology. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. With 35 full-time faculty and staff, 15 graduate students, and a 30,000 sq. ft. laboratory space, the LRC is the largest university-based lighting research and education organization in the world.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America's first technological research university. The university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in engineering; the sciences; information technology and web sciences; architecture; management; and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty advance research in a wide range of fields, with an emphasis on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computational science and engineering, data science, and the media arts and technology. The Institute has an established record of success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, fulfilling its founding mission of applying science "to the common purposes of life."