Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
A TRAFFIC SAFETY DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/042398
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A traffic safety device comprising: a cone having a cone body which tapers upwards to a tip from a cone base; and a safety camera; wherein the safety camera attaches to the cone body using an attachment mechanism, and wherein the camera comprises at least one sensor means arranged to direct away from the cone body in use, and a data recording or transmitting means.

Inventors:
FARMER, Kevin (62 Hart Road, Erdington, Birmingham West Midlands B24 9ES, B24 9ES, GB)
SHALTS, Dean (62 Hart Road, Erdington, Birmingham West Midlands B24 9ES, B24 9ES, GB)
Application Number:
IB2017/055308
Publication Date:
March 08, 2018
Filing Date:
September 04, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
FARMER, Kevin (62 Hart Road, Erdington, Birmingham West Midlands B24 9ES, B24 9ES, GB)
SHALTS, Dean (62 Hart Road, Erdington, Birmingham West Midlands B24 9ES, B24 9ES, GB)
International Classes:
G08G1/04; E01F9/654; G08G1/01; G08G1/017; G08G1/0955
Foreign References:
US8442750B12013-05-14
US7030777B12006-04-18
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WALKER, Neville (21A Commercial Road, Swanage Dorset BH19 1DF, BH19 1DF, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1 . A traffic safety device comprising: a cone having a cone body which tapers upwards to a tip from a cone base; an imager is attached to the cone body using an attachment mechanism comprising a harness and an anchor; wherein the imager has a sensing means which in use is directed away from the cone body, a data recording means and a data transmitting means.

2. A traffic safety device according to claim 1 wherein the harness is exterior the cone body and the anchor is located within the cone body.

3. A traffic safety device according to claim 1 or 2 wherein the attachment mechanism includes a displaceable cover for the camera.

4. A traffic safety device according to any preceding claim wherein the sensing means includes at least one sensor.

5. A traffic safety device according to claim 4 wherein the sensor is a light sensing means.

6. A traffic safety device according to claim 4 wherein the sensor detects motion.

7. A traffic safety device according to claim 4 wherein the sensor is an infra-red sensor.

8. A traffic safety device according to claim 4 wherein the sensor is a vibration sensor.

9. A traffic safety device according to any of claims 4 to 8 wherein the sensor actuates a video recording means.

10. A traffic safety device according to any preceding claim wherein the anchor has wings to surround part of the cone.

1 1 . A traffic safety device according to any preceding claim including a holster for receiving and supporting the camera.

12. A traffic safety device according to any preceding claim includes a charging/data transfer port.

13. A traffic safety device according to any preceding claim including a photovoltaic cell. 14. A traffic safety device according to any preceding claim including an aligning means.

15. A traffic safety device according to any preceding claim including a Global Positioning System.

16. A traffic safety system for use with the device according to any preceding claim includes a personal alert means which is worn or carried by a user and is adapted to issue an alert to the user upon receipt of a warning signal from the device, the alert being transmitted from the data transmitting means in order to warn the user of a hazard.

17. A traffic safety device according to any preceding claim includes a data receiver for receiving data and/or instructions from a remote transmitter. 18. A traffic safety device according to claim 1 7 wherein the data receiver is configurable remotely to trigger the imager to record on recognition of preprogrammed data.

19. A system includes at least one safety device according to claim 17; a means for transmitting selected image data to the safety device; a comparator which compares the selected image data when received at the safety device with images obtained by the safety device imager, whereby the data transmitting means is configured to transmit a suspect alert signal to a remote location when a match is detected.

Description:
A TRAFFIC SAFETY DEVICE

Field of the Invention The present invention relates to a traffic safety device, in particular a traffic safety device for monitoring traffic to improve safety for workers on highways.

Background Increasing numbers of people own vehicles and are transported in vehicles across many societies.

This leads to increasing pressures on highways across these societies. This in turn leads to improvements, and restructuring across highways, as well as more general roadworks for maintenance.

During such maintenance or repair works personnel is often required to be in the roadway, often separated from vehicles moving at speed in dedicated lanes, for example in contra flow situations. These dedicated areas are generally demarcated by traffic cones or similar, which cones are temporary and easily displaced.

This can be dangerous even where speed limits are in place to protect workers, as in some situations some vehicle drivers may ignore speed limits, or enter unauthorised lanes to speed up their journey and avoid delays.

Prior Art

US patent US 8 823 549 (MOONE) discloses a motion detecting traffic cone assembly comprising a motion detector, with a light, alarm and speaker.

US patent US 6 971 329 (STEWART) discloses a lane maker system comprising: a plurality of interconnected traffic control cones, with retractable planar having a hitch at its free ends, said hitch being configured to be releasably connected to an anchor on an adjacent cone, wherein the tape lies substantially flat on the ground between two adjacent cones. US patent US 6 154 133 (ROSS et al) discloses a system for automatically detecting movement of a subject along an exit path in an unauthorized direction.

Summary of the Invention

According to the present invention there is provided a traffic safety device comprising: a cone having a cone body which tapers upwards to a tip from a cone base; an imager is attached to the cone body using an attachment mechanism comprising a harness and an anchor; wherein the imager has a sensing means which in use is directed away from the cone body, a data recording means for recording image data and a data transmission means.

The imager is typically a camera that is capable of capturing photographic images or video.

The device enables passing traffic to be monitored so that the image data obtained, recorded and collected can be used to improve safety.

Advantageously use of the traffic safety devices provide increased safety for highway workers when working in a sectioned off lane on motorways, A-roads or country lanes. The traffic safety devices also provide a means of monitoring traffic to improve safety, identify danger spots and to detect failing or faulty equipment, such as traffic lights that have stopped working. The imager is mounted on, or in the cone. In this way the cone performs a standard function as traffic management tool in the form of a traffic cone with the addition of being able to capture surrounding image data.

The imager or camera is attached to the cone by attachment mechanism that comprises the harness and the anchor that are adapted to aid with attachment of the camera to the safety device.

The harness is secured to the cone by means of an anchor that fixes the harness and thereby the camera in position with respect to the cone. The harness and anchor may be arranged to permit connection through the cone body, for example wherein the harness is arranged on an outer face of the cone and the anchor is fitted within the cone so as to engage with the harness, or vice-versa.

In preferred embodiments the camera is removable from the attachment mechanism so as to permit disconnection of the camera from the safety device so that it can be repaired and/or replaced, or kept separately when not required.

The attachment mechanism may include permanent, semi-permanent or temporary parts such as a permanent, semi-permanent or temporary first attachment part that connects to the cone, and a second attachment that can be received by the first attachment part. For example a first part may be provided for receiving the harness. In this way the harness and thereby the camera can be easily added to and removed from the safety device. The attachment parts may be connected to each other through walls that define the cone body.

In some embodiments the attachment mechanism may comprise parts of the cone itself. For example the attachment mechanism may be an integrated part of the cone or the cone may be adapted for receipt of the attachment means into or onto the cone.

In another embodiment the cone is adapted to be the attachment mechanism so as to be shaped to receive the parts of the device such as the imager or sensor. For example the harness and anchor may be parts of the cone. Advantageously in this way the device may comprise a single unit, which unit may be rendered more difficult to sabotage or steal. This anti-theft feature may be of particular benefit in embodiments where the base is adapted to be secured to an independent structure, or an underlying surface, such as a roadway for example.

In some embodiments the attachment mechanism may comprise a standalone part, which part is for example attachable over the cone. The standalone part may house some or all of the following: the imager, sensing means, data recording means and data transmitting means. For example the attachment mechanism may comprise a standalone harness which may or may not be attached to the cone in use. Advantageously this may enable the camera and attachment mechanism to be applied to any cone, whereupon the cone may be a standard independently available part. For example the attachment mechanism may comprise a belt, clip, clasp, brace, frame, ferromagnetic or screw-fit mechanism which may utilise standard parts of a cone.

For example in some embodiments the attachment mechanism may be arranged to attach the camera to the tip of the cone, wherein standard cones have a perforated tip, and the attachment mechanism may attach to itself through the perforated tip.

In addition the attachment mechanism may include or be associated with ground securing means to limit unauthorised displacement of the camera, wherein both sides of the tip of the cone (inside and outside of the tip) must be accessible to remove the mechanism which is made more difficult if the device, or at least part of the device, is secured to the ground.

The attachment mechanism may comprise a multi-stage assembly.

Typically the safety device is multipartite, to permit addition, removal or change of selected parts. For example the sensing means may be displaceable from the attachment mechanism.

The attachment mechanism in some embodiments may comprise a directable mechanism, so as to enable the user to direct the camera or sensing means in differing directions from the cone. The direction in which the imager is arranged may be positioned before or during use, and may be fixable or fixed. In this way the sensing means may be used to monitor safety in different zones or areas.

In some such embodiments the direction of view of the imager may be along one or more axes. In other embodiments the direction of the sensing means or camera (imager) may be variable along or about only one axis. By reorienting the cone different viewing directions may be obtained. For example the camera or sensing means may rotate about a pivot.

In some embodiments the device may include a tracking sensor to activate movement of the sensor, along or about the axes or pivot once a target is identified. For example a vehicle or person may be tracked when passing the cone within a predetermined distance.

In another embodiment the camera may compare collected image data with data stored on a database, such as captured vehicle licence plate details, so that these can be compared to those number plate details stored on a database. For example the safety device may have or may be connected to automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology. On recognition of a pre-selected data, such a vehicle licence plate details the camera may be activated to image a vehicle and/or its occupants. For example vehicle licence plate details for vehicles with no tax, insurances or MOT could be identified if passing a traffic safety device and a photographic image may be captured for use as evidence of unauthorised use. In this way the device is configurable to be triggered on recognition of pre-programmed data. The device may be configured remotely, for example by transmitting a list of suspect vehicle licence plate details.

The safety devices can be used to detect when a vehicle travels into a particular lane and photographic data can be captured, such as details of the vehicle's number plate as reference for identification which could be passed to relevant parties to analyse or take action for example being pass to enforcement agencies.

The safety device may form part of a search system to locate selected vehicles or persons. Selected data from a database may be passed to the safety device so that the images they collect can be compared with selected image data transmitted to them in order to identify suspects or suspect vehicles. For example a list of suspect vehicle registration numbers or suspect's facial recognition data is sent to the safety device for comparing with captured image data. Images captured by the safety devices are compared with selected data that is transmitted from a remote location in order to identify a match and thereby confirm a suspect or suspect vehicle, for example using ANPR. On detection of matched data a signal is transmitted to a control centre so that an investigating officer (police officer) can be tasked to apprehend the vehicle or person. The system is ideally programmed to deploy the closest asset (police officer) by comparing location of the safety device with location of available assets. It is appreciated that in some embodiments a standard cone may be modified to receive the camera, data recording and data transmitting means. The cone body is arranged vertically in use, with the base extending horizontally. Definitions of horizontal and vertical are general and with reference to standard usage only, defining substantially orthogonal directions or planes.

In some embodiments effective field of view that can be detected by the camera or sensing means may be variable. In this way the captured area can be altered depending upon location.

The device includes a data recording means so that data captured can be stored. The data recording means typically includes an electronically addressable memory for storing the data. The device also has data transmitting means to transfer captured data from the device to a remote device. In this way data, such as vehicle licence plate details, can be recorded and sent to a remote location quickly and without human intervention. In this way the device may enable the local storage of data captured using the sensing means, and permit access as required by the user when data is extracted or read from the memory.

For example images taken by the camera (imager) may be stored on a memory means such as a data storage card. The stored data is then transmitted to an electronic device for analysis or review. For example the stored data may be transferred to smartphone, tablet, computer or other portable electrical device.

The device may comprise wired or wireless connectivity, so as to enable other equipment to access the data or to control, edit or amend the functionality of the sensing means remotely from the device.

In this way the data collected by the device may compared with other data, such as location information, to identify objects or vehicles or people or to provide information to be analysed. For example location data may contain details restricted zones and determine if restricted areas have been entered, or if a speed limit has been breached. This facility provides a remote monitoring system to record evidence based data that can be used to enforce regulations, support prosecutions as appropriate at a later date.

The camera may comprise a plurality of sensor means to detect information from the surrounding environment, such as light levels, presence of people, vehicles, road markings and lights. For example the camera may comprise a vehicle motion or presence sensing means, arranged to sense presence of a vehicle and activate a light sensing means, or video recording means. This video recording means may take at least one picture or sequence of pictures when triggered. The sensing means may comprise a light or other sensing means, for example at least one infra red sensor arranged to sense radiation in the direction of the camera lens. The sensing means may comprise an infra-red (IR) source in addition to an IR sensor. The sensing means may comprise a vibration sensing means. In some embodiments the device may detect colour of a lamp so that it can sense a colour from a traffic light. For example the device may deactivate when sensed coloured light is green and reactivated when a sensed light is red, in order to monitor vehicle activity in a contra flow for example in specific time intervals. The attachment mechanism may comprise a locking means, so as to limit theft of the camera.

The base may comprise a ground securing or locking means to limit displacement of the cone from the road. This locking means may be provided in use by a number of holes in the base and through-bolts which in use are screwed or otherwise connected into the ground below.

Preferably the device includes a power supply in the form of a battery. In some embodiments the device may include at least one photovoltaic cell to permit energy generation to power the device. It is appreciated that energy generated may be used to directly power the device and/or to charge a battery that powers the device. In some embodiments the device may include an alignment means, typically a laser to permit alignment of one device to another. Typically the laser is arranged to project a beam from the device to create a visible guide that can be directed to another device or to correspond with a road, road markings.

In some embodiments the devices may be adapted for intercommunication from one device to another. In this way this way data may be shared or transferred between devices. For example the devices may be concatenated to enable passing of data from one device to another in order to reach a data collection point. In this way it may not be necessary to collect data independently from each individual device.

Preferred embodiments are ideally adapted to receive and transmit wireless data. For example the devices may use wireless transmission of information such as mobile networks, satellites, radio frequency, Bluetooth (RTM) etc. In this way data and/or instructions can be received (and transmitted) without requirement for a technician to visit the device.

Optionally devices include a global positioning system (GPS) sensor so as to provide a location fixing and to track a device if moved, for example if stolen. Advantageously each device may be fitted with security means to keep data secure, to prevent corruption of data and to keep information confidential.

The device may have means to ensure the data stored or captured is encrypted. The storage means may be encased to prevent access. For example the memory means may be located such that attempt to remove the memory means would destroy the data.

In another embodiment the device may include a personal alert means. The personal alert means may be triggered on detection of a vehicle so as to alert surrounding persons of an approaching vehicle thereby giving personnel time to move well clear of an area through which vehicles or fast moving traffic passes. The personal alert means thereby serves as an advance warning system, for example for workers who may be operating in regions of excessive background noise or areas of restricted view of oncoming traffic. In some embodiments the alert may indicate the speed of an approaching vehicle, motorbike, cyclist or person, for example a fast approaching vehicle may trigger a louder or a more rapid repeating alarm, whereas a slow approaching vehicle, or approaching cyclist may trigger a slow repeating alarm, or an alternative alert such as a flashing light.

Ideally the personal alert means includes a vibrating alert generated by a vibrating module in the remote device. This enables the alert to be sensed by the person holding or wearing the remote device in a loud environment, such as motorway, or about machinery, where an audible alarm may not be heard. One way of ensuring this is by wearing the vibrate device, for example on a pendant or writs band. In this way a worker receives a personal haptic safety alert to warn of approaching traffic.

In yet another embodiment the cone may be include a wireless connection to the personal alert device such as a wristband, pendant, fob, smartphone or similar device so that it is activated by a signal directly from the safety device, thereby indicating a hazard, such as rapidly approaching traffic. The wireless signal is transmitted by radio frequency (RF) connection, such as a WiFi, Bluetooth (RTM) or mobile network.

Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the Figures in which:

Brief Description of Figures

Figure 1 shows an exploded isometric view of an embodiment of the device according to the present invention;

Figures 2 show plan views of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 , from below and above respectively;

Figure 3 shows an isometric view of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ;

Figure 4 shows a reverse isometric view of the embodiment as shown in Figure 3, with ground securing bolts; Figure 5 shows a reverse isometric view of the embodiment as shown in Figure 1 ;

Figures 6 show side views of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ; Figures 7 show isometric views of the harness of the attachment mechanism of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ;

Figure 8 shows isometric views of the camera of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ; Figure 9 shows the cone part of the attachment mechanism of the embodiment shown in Figure 1 ;

Figure 10 shows a sketch of the camera unit shown in Figures 8; and Figure 1 1 shows a diagrammatic representation of a search system. Detailed Description of Figures

With reference to the figures there is shown an embodiment of the device comprising a thermoplastics cone, formed by a frusto-conical body 14 tapering upwards from a horizontally extending base 8. The base is typically provided as a separate part to the body, and comprises a substantially square plate with a central perforation. The bottom of the base comprises moulded ribs 18 with intermediate open channels 17, such that the base may stand easily on a variety of subordinate structures with any upward projections able to be accommodated between channels.

The base is sturdy weighted rubber, so as to deform on the subordinate surface. The base has four holes 9 situated towards the corners for passage of bolts 7 into sockets in the ground, each hole having a surrounding rim 22 in the bottom.

The cone body has a retro-reflective band 6 around its central third longitudinally and may be produced in a different colour to standard cones so as to allow differentiation. The cone base perforation has an upstanding collar 10, which strengthens the joint between the cone parts and supports the cone body to remain upright. The cone body has a topmost tip 4 with a central aperture. The cone body 14 comprises two sets of two indentations 1 proximate the tip, which indentations allow four screws 5 into the cone body as part of the attachment mechanism. The indentations are tear drop shaped and include apertures 2 centrally within the lower of the indentation, and the screws pass through the cone body into nuts 82 that are welded to an anchor 12 and through the external harness 1 1 , which harness provides a first attachment mechanism part, and the anchor a second attachment part.

The harness comprises wings 16, arranged in use to surround in part the cone body laterally, and a holster part 15, arranged in use to receive the camera.

The camera 13 comprises a housing 45, viewing electronics mounted within the housing, a motion detector sensing means 47 on a surface of the housing, and a controller operatively coupled to the viewing electronic sensing means 48, and the motion detector, wherein the controller is adapted to send an activation signal to the viewing electronics when the controller receives a triggering signal from the motion detector.

A speaker or siren 44 on the camera unit alerts workers if a car passes the sensor. The camera 13 is a wholly displaceable unit, which unit is provided to fore with a light sensing means or lens 48, motion sensing means or sensor 47, and LED flashlight 46. The rear of the camera includes a displaceable sealing flap 40 access for the battery. The flap covers a USB connector 41 to allow the camera to be charged, and micro-USB ports 42 for data removal, as well as a lock 43 for site manager access only to limit vandalism.

The camera 13 is inserted into the cover prior to the harness attachment to the cone and anchor. The harness comprises wings for the bolts 5 and a cover 15 for the camera 13, which extends horizontally outwards in use from the cone body.

The cover is arranged to provide cover over the substantial majority of the camera, so as to limit water ingress. The cover includes an aperture 21 for the light sensing means or lens, and a transparent cover over the camera's LED flashlight 46. In this way passage of a vehicle past the motion detector sensing means wakes up the viewing sensing means so as to register visual data on the vehicle, for future reference. In some embodiments the unit utilises wireless technology to connect to traffic lights such that when the red light is activated the unit is instructed to take photos if a car drives through.

In some embodiments the unit utilises wireless technology to connect to traffic lights such that when the red light is activated the unit is instructed to take photographs if a car drives through a restricted zone or exceeds a speed limit.

The harness 1 1 of the attachment mechanism is screwed into the second part of the attachment mechanism which second part comprises the cone anchor 12. This anchor is inserted into the cone body, and the bolts 5 pass through the body and into the anchor to clamp the harness in place. The security bolts provide a secondary security feature making it difficult to remove the bolts without the required tool.

The attachment anchor is located in use inside the cone body near the tip. The anchor includes a central fabric loop 81 , looped through a slot 85 in and extending from a metal structural cruciform 83, which cruciform is horizontal in use and has two braces 86 extending substantially vertically at the end of two of the arms and welded at welds 87 thereto. These braces are arranged with nuts 82 and holes 84 proximate their ends, and are inclined inwards towards the top ends, with the bottom ends and holes depending below the cruciform.

Figure 1 1 shows a diagrammatic representation of a monitoring system 200 which includes the invention. Selected image data, such as a vehicle registration number or an image of a person, is obtained from database 210. The image data is transmitted to one or more selected safety devices 100a, 100b and 100c. It may not be necessary to transmit the image data to all safety devices 100. In order to reduce costs it may be that only some safety devices 100 are configured to receive remotely transmitted image data. The selected image data transmitted to the safety devices 100a, 100b and 100c may be from a list of suspects facial image data or registration number plate data of suspect vehicles obtained from a database 210. This image data is transmitted to the safety devices with a request that they search and compare with the images obtained by the safety devices 100 in order to look for a match. On detection of a suspect match 212 from the list, a suspect alert signal 220 is transmitted from the safety device 100b which has determined there is a match or a high probability of a match, to a control centre 240. The suspect alert signal may be relayed via a conventional phone mast 230 as part of a wireless telephone network or it may be transmitted via a secure or restricted radio network directly to the control centre 240.

Upon receipt of the suspect alert signal the control centre 240 initiates deployment of an asset, such as police patrol car or investigating officer to a location to where the identified vehicle 212 is travelling. Several safety devices 100a, 100b and 100c as well as other safety equipment and vehicle monitoring devices may be contacted ion order to determine the direction and speed of travel of the suspect vehicle and in order to provide an expected location of the suspect vehicle which can be relayed to the police patrol car. In an alternative search system all image data from the safety devices 100a, 100b and 100c may be sent to a control centre 240 that analyses the image data remotely from the safety devices 100a, 100b and 100c. The control centre 240 may be in communication with a database or plurality of databases that supplies image data from one or more suspect lists. Images received from the safety devices 100a, 100b and 100c is then compared at the control central 240 using ANPR and/or facial recognition software or other analysis software. On detection of a match an asset is alerted to monitor or apprehend a suspect. In this way analysis of the image data is carried out remotely from the safety devices 100a, 100b and 100c. The invention has been described by way of examples only and it will be appreciated that variation may be made to the above-mentioned embodiments without departing from the scope of invention as defined by the claims, in particular but not solely including embodiments which combine features of described embodiments.