On Saturday, seven people were killed in an accident on the Sangju-Yeongcheon Expressway that was caused by black ice, a thin coat of ice that forms on wet surfaces as the temperature drops. Black ice is hard to spot as it is transparent. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced on Monday its plans to check the conditions of all the roads susceptible to black ice, but this is nearly impossible considering the road network of South Korea extends 11,000 kilometers.
Against this backdrop, a new technology has been developed that automatically calculates the risk of black ice, which can lead to hazardous driving conditions. The developer is partnering with a Sat Nav company for a pilot program in an attempt to commercialize a navigation system that warns against black ice.
A research team at the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology has released the new technology on Tuesday. The technology uses the outside temperature and location information gathered from a car to work out the road temperature and forecast black ice.
Researchers drove a car equipped with a thermostat on the Jayu Motorway and the Yeongdong Expressway for five years to collect the outside temperature and location information under various circumstances. They then analyzed the gathered data as well as weather, environment and road information to find patterns in changes in road temperatures and used algorithms to determine the risk. For instance, it analyzes the characteristics of the road when the road temperature is below zero, and the chance of precipitation is above 60 percent and advises the driver on the risk of black ice.
“We are running a pilot project with Thinkware to develop a Sat Nav system that warns against black ice,” researcher Yang Chung-heon said. “The new system, once developed, will help drivers drive more safely.”