Apparatus and methods effective for detecting, locating and characterizing traffic-related incidents are based upon improved image processing techniques applied to infrared and visible light spectrum roadway images in a time sequence. Substantially real-time isolation and identification of anomalous or unexpected traffic conditions allows control of traffic signals and dispatch of law enforcement, maintenance or emergency medical care resources to reduce cost and increase safety. Detectable traffic-related incidents include, for example, the appearance of a stationary object on a roadway, the appearance of a pedestrian on a roadway, and the identification and location of vehicles obstructing traffic flow by moving too slowly or erratically or in the wrong direction. Programmable digital computer image processing allows automatic classification of the severity of detected incidents based on the potential for further traffic hazards and injuries, and can support automatic signals to alter traffic flow patterns for reducing the likelihood of incidents, as well as automatic alerts to law enforcement, maintenance and emergency medical personnel.
Ernest A. Franke; Ernest S. Kinkler; Michael J. Magee; Steven B. Seida