Florida drivers may soon be safer on the road thanks to Dr. Christina Drake, Assistant Professor of Electrical, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at Florida Poly.
Her research interests – which include novel materials and sensors based on meta-material-based approaches; low-cost imagers and sensors; and biologically inspired or incorporated sensors and platforms – have already propelled her to four provisional patents. Now, she’s turning her attention to traffic and fog.
Bolstered by a $1.5 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, Dr. Drake will study new methods of predicting fog on Florida roadways, helping forecasters better monitor and alert travelers of dangerous weather conditions.
“Transportation challenges are among the most pressing in Florida as our population grows and becomes more mobile. Advancing transportation technology – including systems for predicting and monitoring roadway conditions — will ultimately make travel safer, easier and more efficient for everyone,” says Florida Poly President Dr. Randy K. Avent.
FDOT Project Manager Fred Heery, Sr., P.E., echoes the importance of this research: “Fog can be a major issue on Florida’s roadways, and we’ve seen several major accidents over the past decade related to intense fog conditions. The purpose of this study is to improve traffic management, but more importantly to help improve the safety of Florida travelers.”
The Florida Polytechnic University will establish testing sites in Central and Southern Florida to improve the current weather model and help provide advanced warnings of road conditions that can cause traffic congestion – all part of the University’s commitment to solving real-world problems with research
Dr. Drake’s partners in this undertaking include PraxSoft, an information technology and engineering company based in Orlando, and fellow Florida Poly faculty members: Dr. Christopher Coughlin (Associate Professor of Nanotechnology and Multifunctional Materials) and Dr. Harish Chintakunta (Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering). Undergraduate research associates will also have the opportunity to participate in the exciting project.
Dr. Drake expects the research to make an impact on the many thousands affected by roadway safety concerns each year, but also on the Florida Poly students who are able to participate in the project, which will “prepare them to be lifelong innovators and problem-solvers, ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow.”
Dr. Drake and the team will make recommendations to FDOT for new technologies and testing methods over the coming months. Until then – drive carefully.