A More Intelligent Way to De-Ice

Posted By Myriam Semery
Windows Embedded BG Lead

A big freeze is descending upon much of Europe today and this weekend, causing thousands of canceled flights or completely closed airports, extremely cold temperatures and snowfall, and dangerous roads. I’m the Windows Embedded lead for Southern Europe, living in Paris, where getting around is no picnic. My colleague Werner Reuss has been braving the roads in Munich, Germany; here, he reflects on an innovative Italian technology that’s making a big difference in wintertime driving.

It has been snowing pretty heavily the past few days in Munich, where I live, and the forecast doesn’t show any signs of it letting up soon. As an avid skier, living in a city within an hour and a half’s drive of some of the best skiing in the world is major incentive. I love the snow when I’m hitting the slopes, but there is a downside to living in a winter wonderland.

Munich is very prepared for snow; the city has snow plows ready at the first sign of a flake. Due to environmental and economic concerns, we plow and salt only major roadways, which keeps traffic flowing and accidents to a minimum. Unfortunately, if you have to drive on side streets to get to the main roads or have to cross a bridge, driving can feel like sledding.

The balance of making roads safe while conserving nature and money reminded me of a cool project, called Golden-Ice, developed by researchers at the Microsoft Innovation Center of Torino, Italy, Istituto Superiore Mario Boella and Giletta Spa. The price of salt in mass quantities can add up quickly, especially when you are trying to cover a lot of roadways. While it is possible to adjust the amount of salt used, it’s not safe or realistic to expect the truck drivers to do so while driving, and adding a second employee is not a cost-effective solution. clip_image004

The researchers developed an intelligent system, based on Windows Embedded Compact 7, Silverlight for Windows Embedded and Azure, that adjusts the amount of salt the truck pours based on the road conditions. The application is used by Giletta all over the world, and trucks are reporting a 30 percent decrease in the use of salt. If you want to learn more about the project, please read the full article.

I can hope that someone from the Department of Transportation is reading this and is inspired to learn more about Golden-Ice to expand the number of roads that are plowed and salted. Until then, here’s to white-knuckle commuting.

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