Truck inspection station bypass moving to 5.9GHz - adding to toll IOP list?

November 12, 2012
By Peter Samuel

2012-11-11: Richard ('Rick') Clasby president and CEO of HELP Inc the Arizona-based group providing truck clearance service at truck inspection and weigh stations around America says they are adopting 5.9GHz for vehicle to roadside wireless data communications. He says that trials of the equipment at six truck weigh stations on I-70 in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois are going "extremely well" and that state enforcement people at the weigh stations, and also truckers involved, are enthusiastic.

If most of the country's 2 million heavy trucks look like getting 5.9GHz there would be a strong case for including it in the list of protocols to be included in national interoperability of electronic toll collection.

Some 430,000 trucks in the HELP PrePass program seem likely to phase out their old ASTMv6 915MHz equipment, only  used for tolling on Toronto's 407ETR and in a dual mode transponder with E-ZPass on the New York State Thruway. 

They'll be upgrading to the far more capable 5.9GHz WAVE (Wireless Access in Vehicle Environments IEEE 802.11p).

The 5.9GHz reader-transponder (or as Kapsch likes to call it OBU-roadside transceiver ('on board unit') is part of a larger suite of equipment and applications for more effective truck inspection. A proximity card is used to transfer driver-specific data to the 5.9GHz OBU with Bluetooth and the unit also incorporates GPS for location data.

The data transfer capacity  of 5.9GHz WAVE is 40 to 50 times  the ASTMv6. 5.9GHz does over 20 megabits/second that's 20,000 kilo bits/second kb/s vs ASTMv6 and E-ZPass IAG's 500kb/s and the 6C sticker tags' 640kb/s.

Longer range (up to 1km vs 100m) multiplies further the advantage of the 5.9GHz vehicle-roadside communications.

Overkill for tolling to promote

The toll industry has always rejected adopting 5.9GHz WAVE as vastly more communications capability than is needed for toll collection, but once it is installed for other purposes tolling would almost certainly pick up on it.

The huge capability of 5.9GHz seems perfect for truck clearance.

It enables a whole array of data to be filed by truckers with an inspection station while still driving on the mainline, promising to greatly increase the proportion of trucks checked without having to pull in. 

The proportion of trucks allowed to "bypass" inspection goes up with benefits for inspectors and honest truckers alike.

The present transponder/reader technology ASTMv6, a variant of the E-ZPass IAG protocols hardly allows more than identification and other basic data to be provided to the inspection station in real time while approaching the inspection station.

'Demo' could evolve into full deployment

Clasby says the IN/OH/IL/I-70 demonstration program for 5.9GHz seems likely to evolve into a full switchover to the higher frequency, and higher capability communications system next year.

The 'demonstration' program was officially launched on I-70 October 19 and Clasby says HELP Inc has no contractual commitments with Kapsch beyond the 3-state I-70 demonstration. Xerox/ACS is HELP's system integrator and operator, and Kapsch is working as a contractor to Xerox.

Whether they go out to a competitive procurement or simply extend their present arrangements with Kapsch has yet to be decided.

Kapsch well placed

Kapsch through its acquisition of Mark IV supplies the equipment and with ACS/Xerox back office for the old ASTMv6 based system at present in use by HELP Inc in its PrePass branded account at 300 truck inspection stations in 31 states.

5.9GHz WAVE is very much an open standard and TransCore, Raytheon, Q-Free, 3M and others have demonstrated a capability in it also.

Nevertheless Kapsch obviously has a powerful lead in selling 5.9GHz into trucks.

Clasby told us in an interview he's hopeful that 5.9GHz WAVE and the other enhancements to electronic clearance will allow a major expansion of the HELP PrePass program. Already some 96 of the country's largest trucking companies is enrolled, but participation drops off among medium and smaller truckers.

19 states still don't participate.

With a much more capable PrePass system its attractiveness to truckers and to state inspection agencies alike should increase.

They should be able to grow well beyond the present 430,000 trucks and quite quickly, Clasby thinks, once the new 5.9 based upgrade is in place.

More truckers asking to join

The I-70 demonstration project involves five trucking companies but Clasby says several others have already asked to join.

Kapsch have been offering 5.9GHz as the preferred technology for electronic tolling for some years. They proposed it to the E-ZPass Group in the last major competitive procurement (before their acquisition of Mark IV) but it was ruled out as non-compliant and not shortlisted for testing.

E470 looked at 5.9, went for 6C - $s!

In August-September 2008 when E470 tollroad in Denver was looking for an upgrade from the California style 915MHz Title 21 system Kapsch had Southwest Research Institute do trials at a 3 lanes plus shoulder mainline barrier toll point with 10,000 passes.

They got an amazing 100% reads with the 5.9 gear. (Kapsch's laser vehicle classification also tested did less well than in-pavement smart loops, 89% vs 92%.) ADDITION: Kapsch say they've refined their laser tracking and classification system since those tests in Denver and now get 98% accuracy on a system in actual use in Dallas TX - Tues Nov 13 9am.

E470 toll authority however found the ISO 18000-6C sticker tags performed well too and went for those on price.

Thruway has seen tests too

Kapsch first demonstrated their 5.9GHz truck inspection system last year on the New York State Thruway I-90 at the Schodack screening site near Albany NY.

5.9GHz future in cars is up for consideration sometime in 2013 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) makes a decision on whether to mandate its installation in new vehicles to support a variety of safety systems growing out of the Connected Vehicle program.

No interference

One factor in favor of 5.9GHz WAVE on the national IOP list will be that it doesn't degrade the performance of multi protocol readers in the same way multiple 915MHz protocols do. A separate antenna is needed but otherwise the two quite different frequencies can operate together without interference.

Clasby says any 5.9GHz transponders bought for Prepass will need to offer the option to handle E-ZPass  because with existing ASTMv6 they offer a PrePass Plus program that uses a Fusion bimodal transponder that does the truck bypass and E-ZPass tolling.

TOLLROADSnews 2012-11-11 CORRECTIONS Nov 12 14:15

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