New AI System in Estonia Reduces Speed Limit for Crossing Animals

This system will make roads safer for both animals and humans.
Chris Young

A recently installed automatic animal detection system in Estonia identifies large wildlife such as moose, bears, deer, and wild boars, and subsequently turns on light up warnings in the surrounding area and reduces the speed limit.

The system is part of a concerted effort in Estonia to protect wildlife and prevent injuries and casualties caused by car collisions with animals.

It has been introduced amidst renewed calls from local authorities to be "especially careful near wildlife crossing areas."


Animal Crossing: real-life edition

The new detection system uses ten radars to monitor the roadside and seek out any animals approaching a designated crossing area.

If and when any animal is registered, a signal is sent to warning signs in the area so that a light goes off and the speed limit is reduced in the region to 43.5 mph (70 km/h). The warning and speed reductions are lifted once the animals have crossed.

This video shared by the Estonian Road Administration (Maanteeamet), shows a herd of moose reaching one of the crossing points:

Siim Vaikmaa, head of the Road Administration's traffic control center, via ERR, said: "If warning and speed limit signs have lit up, we ask drivers to be especially careful near wildlife crossing areas. This means it is reasonable to reduce driving speed and even stop and turn on their car's hazard lights, if necessary."

Making roads safer for animals and humans

As an industrial IoT company, Samsara points out in a blog post, "there are a number of reasons animals are drawn to the open road, beyond a means of simply getting from point A to point B."

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For example, freshly mowed or brushed lawns alongside roads provide a rich habitat of regrown pastures, and salted roads provide animals a fix of rich nutrients and vitamins.

A paper by the ATME College of Engineering in India also recently detailed the workings of a system designed to detect wildlife so as to prevent collisions on the road.

The paper says that the number of wildlife collisions per year might be higher than records state as "databases exclude accidents that have vehicle damage less than $1,000."

In the U.S., there are over 300,000 yearly vehicle-wildlife collisions. Over 24,000 of those cause the death of an animal and almost 2,000 are fatal to the driver.

A combination of animal detection systems and autonomous vehicle safety features — such as Tesla's Autopilot which can be seen here avoiding a pig at night — could prove to be a potent solution for this problem.

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