Investigating the Effectiveness of Using Bluetooth Low-Energy Technology to Trigger In-Vehicle Messages in Work Zones


Chen-Fu Liao, Max Donath

December 2016

Report no. MnDOT 2016-38

In order to reduce risky behavior around workzones, this project examines the effectiveness of using in- vehicle messages to heighten drivers? awareness of safety-critical and pertinent workzone information. This investigation centers around an inexpensive technology based on Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) tags that can be deployed in or ahead of the workzone. A smartphone app was developed to trigger non- distracting, auditory-visual messages in a smartphone mounted in a vehicle within range of the BLE workzone tags. Messages associated with BLE tags around the workzone can be updated remotely in real time and as such may provide significantly improved situational awareness about dynamic conditions at workzones such as: awareness of workers on site, changing traffic conditions, or hazards in the environment. Experiment results indicate that while travelling at 70 mph (113 km/h), the smartphone app is able to successfully detect a long-range BLE tag placed over 410 feet (125 meters) away on a traffic barrel on a roadway shoulder. Additional experiments are being conducted to validate the system performance under different roadway geometry, traffic, and weather conditions.

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