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Lighting Research Center
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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: https://doi.org/10.4271/2018-01-5036. The paper also includes a link to a short descriptive video, which can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeeNiDrDh5E.
 
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 light and human health, transportation lighting and safety, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency, and plant health. 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. Learn more at www.lrc.rpi.edu.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America's first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.