As speeding is one of the leading causes of accidents, speed bumps are often used to ensure that drivers observe the speed limit. These devices are used as traffic-cushion, helping to remind drivers to slow the pace of their vehicles. Although they are very efficient in achieving their goal, they obviously come with their own set of drawbacks.
Firstly, due to the stop-start procedure required to over speed bumps, vehicles tend to release more toxic fumes like CO2 and NO2. Secondly, every time a car passes over a speed bump, it burns roughly 5-10 ml of fuel, significantly reducing the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
Also, according to a recent study, it appears that having speed bumps in residential areas results in a depreciation of the cumulative property value. Furthermore, speed bumps are an annoying obstacle for ambulances or other emergency services, where time is the most critical factor.
To fix these problems, many organizations are coming up with innovative designs that serve the same purpose while reducing inconvenience.
Badennova, a Spanish road safety organization, is currently working on liquid-filled roads. Because of the pressure caused by the weight of vehicles, those driving at the correct speed, aren’t affected by it. On the other hand, if a car is speeding, the pressure of the vehicle will cause a speed bump to appear in front of the wheels.
The liquid used is a non-Newtonian fluid, meaning that it changes viscosity in different situations. Thus, a gentle poke will keep the fluid in a thick liquid state but will turn solid when hit with a solid punch. The testing process for these speed bumps has been conducted in Spain, Germany, and Israel. However, the company has no plans to extend its operation to the US yet.
Smartbumps is another organization that is working on smart speed bumps. This company use sensors, installed right before the bump, to monitor the speed and then react accordingly. If the driver crosses the regulated limit, the bump will rise; however, if he’s driving at the correct rate, the speed bump will stay flat.
These speed bumps are powered by electricity and use about 10 kW/month each. However, to reduce the environmental impact that a large number of these could cause, they would need to be powered by a renewable source of electricity. Using solar panels would probably be the best solution even though it may be quite expensive on a larger scale. They are low maintenance, water, and dirt resistant, and only require basic installation.
Smartbumps and Badennova’s concepts seem very interesting since they only punish speeding drivers instead of being a hindrance to everyone. However, this kind of design comes with some warnings. For example, if the smart seed bump doesn’t go down fast enough, then it would be no better than an old speed bump. The opposite is also true. If it doesn’t go up on time, then it’s merely useless…
Both concepts are ready for testing, but there might be some constraints. For instance, in developed countries like the US, installing the systems can be easier as the roads are better maintained. In developing countries like India, however, it might be very challenging to incorporate as many roads are still unpaved in some regions of the country. Furthermore, their long term reliability is still not proven. And what happens when used in countries where the climate is super cold, like in Canada.
With that being said, the results of the tests will decide on their fate. In all cases, these smart speed bumps would be much appreciated by tuners or supercars owners who wouldn’t have to risk cracking their front lips every time they go over one.
Keep your fingers crossed, people!