Vehicles Equipped with On-Board Technology Increase Driver Awareness and Safety

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The Gainesville Autonomous Shuttle by the UF Fine Arts building

A University of Florida Transportation Institute (UFTI) study funded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) found that advanced communication technologies and vehicle on-board units (OBUs) are effective in increasing driver awareness. These technologies provide information to drivers regarding their surroundings, such as the presence of pedestrians and traffic signal information. The study was supported by the City of Gainesville, Fla., with equipment supplied by Brandmotion LLC and Yunex Traffic (formerly Siemens ITS), and it is part of the research conducted by the I-STREET living lab.

The research team installed a total of 71 OBUs on vehicles belonging to the City of Gainesville, FDOT, and the University of Florida (UF). The project deployed and tested connected vehicle technologies and related applications along the four roadways surrounding UF’s main campus. Drivers of vehicles associated with the UF fleet reported using the OBU features daily, mostly within the campus. They reported that they received messages from roadside units approximately 90 percent of the time. Drivers also reported that the use of OBUs is beneficial because it increases awareness of their surroundings. For example, one user said pedestrian warnings on the app made them actively look around and watch for walkers. Drivers found the signal timing messages useful and suggested that, in addition to the existing locations around the campus, it would be beneficial if OBUs were functional at more locations. Drivers suggested that combining auditory and visual warnings would be better than visual warnings alone and that OBU applications and navigation functionalities should be integrated into one system.

The study, led by Sanjay Ranka, Ph.D., professor at the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Lily Elefteriadou, Ph.D., professor and director of UFTI, and Pruthvi Manjunatha, Ph.D., I-STREET manager, is titled Implementing Solutions from Transportation Research and Evaluating Emerging Technologies (I-STREET) Gainesville Signal Phasing and Timing (SPaT) Trapezium Deployment. I-STREET is a collaboration among the City of Gainesville, FDOT, and UFTI. UFTI and I-STREET develop, deploy, and evaluates various advanced transportation technologies related to connected and autonomous vehicles, advanced traffic management systems, smart devices, and sensors, as well as various applications that enhance mobility and safety.

“UFTI is at the forefront of using novel technologies for interacting with connected and autonomous vehicles,” Dr. Ranka said. “Our long-term objective is to leverage big data analytics and artificial intelligence to use the information collected for both improving safety and traffic operations.”

For further information, please contact Pruthvi Manjunatha at Visit the I-STREET website at

About Brandmotion 

Since 2005, Brandmotion has been working continuously to reduce the number of lives lost on our roads due to traffic accidents. Specializing in the design, integration, and distribution of emerging automotive safety technology, Brandmotion is a recognized leader among aftermarket installers of mobile electronics. The company was awarded 2020 SEMA Best New Performance Product Finalist Award, 2018 SEMA Best of Show Award, 2018 SEMA Best New Van/Pickup/Sport Utility Product Award, and 2016 SEMA PRO Manufacturer of the Year at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

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