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Monitoring the transport of dangerous goods

Case study – SURVISIONIntertraffic – 27th March 2012 – Sony  booth  11.321

On the 24th March 1999, a Belgian truck transporting flour and margarine caught fire in the 11.6km Mont Blanc tunnel, killing 33 people. Because of it being an enclosed environment the intensity of the fire, started by a cigarette stub entering the lorry’s air induction snorkel and lighting the paper air filter, was significantly increased to a level where the tunnel’s armoured metal cables melted.

In the aftermath legislation was passed to ensure the owners of all tunnels longer than 300m implemented DAI (automatic incident detection) systems to alert authorities to both smoke and stopped cars. To further minimise the risk of disaster the EU is seeking to implement regulations to restrict access for vehicles transporting dangerous goods in potentially dangerous areas – tunnels and city centres. Indeed approximately 30 tunnels around Paris and 30 around Belgium already ban vehicles transporting such substances.

Enforcing this ban, however, has proved difficult and several trucks are caught each year ignoring signs. Governments are therefore seeking ways to automatically monitor for trucks that enter tunnels either legally – to track and ensure correct emergency procedures can be followed, for example using foam rather than water to chemical fight fires – or illegally – administering hefty fines to drivers and their company.

According to Survision’s CEO, Jacques Jouannais, optical character recognition using machine vision camera technology will prove key in enabling this: “The EU has stipulated that all vehicles carry an orange sign with information on the material being transported and the hazard it presents, for example petrol uses 33, highly flammable and 1203, gasoline.”

The company recently put forward a system to European authorities and in undergoing testing in eight tunnels throughout Europe. This includes a trial in tunnels that go under the French city of Toulon: “two Sony cameras are used to detect both the dangerous material signage and the number plate, upon identification the cameras instantly send an alert to digital road signs by the entrance of the tunnel to alert the driver to either turn back or continue if permitted. The vehicle can also be tracked throughout the tunnel using a series of cameras, ensuring the authorities – Dirmed - are aware of any incident instantly and precautions can be taken,” summarised Jouannais.

At the heart of the Survision system is a Sony FCB camera module, these output video up to full HD (1080p) to enable accurate image analysis. The FCB block camera is linked to Survision’s DSP processing unit running optical character recognition software for ANPR (automatic number plate recognition system) and dangerous materials signage detection and an algorithm to identify the vehicle and allow tracking.

Stéphane Clauss of Sony Europe’s Image Sensing Solutions division said: “The FCB’s excellent low-light sensitivity, coupled with its highly efficient lens and exposure control make it ideal for outdoor applications such as this. The high quality images enable key metrics to be monitored in real time allowing actions to be made instantly; in this case alerting drivers via road signs and authorities or to administer fines if regulations have been broken.”


 For further editorial information, please contact:

Rob Ashwell, Publitek
+44 (0) 1225 470000 / rob.ashwell [at] / Skype: robpublitek / Twitter: @r_ashwell20