Flood warning by windscreen wiper

Project RainCars relies on unconventional measurement technology

Windscreen wiper as rain indicator? public domain
Read out

Regular floods cause great damage. But in Germany there are too few rain gauge stations to make accurate forecasts. The solution is now to create an unusual solution: The RainCars project uses cars as mobile measuring stations with windscreen wipers as rain sensors.

Rain measuring stations in Germany are often far apart. Rain radars provide only indirect and therefore uncertain data. Since there is no possibility to build nationwide new measuring stations, the research team of Leibniz Universität Hannover came up with the idea of ​​using something that exists, in this case on cars. The idea behind it is simple: wipers are switched on when it rains, so they are an indicator of precipitation and can measure it indirectly. The amount of rain is primarily determined by the wiper frequency. In addition, optical sensors are being investigated as rain sensors.

Many distributed measurements for a clear picture

The core idea behind the project: Relatively inaccurate measurements in many places are better than exact measurements on very few. The position of the cars and the wiper frequency are measured and compared with permanently installed weather stations. The combination with the exact measurement data allows a fast and precise determination of how big the amount of rain is at which place. The cars themselves should also adjust their data, so that at the end of the measuring process the most precise and spatially well-distributed data volumes are available.

The results of the measurements serve as a database for computer simulations. Different scenarios for traffic densities and weather conditions are played through. In addition, the scientists are examining how accurate is the spatial rain detection with windscreen wipers compared to conventional methods. To test the project in practice, cooperation with taxis or delivery vehicles is planned.

Interdisciplinary project team

For the project, hydrologists and geoinformatics specialists form a team. Involved are the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformatics (ikg) under the direction of Monika Sester and the Institute of Water Management, Hydrology and Agricultural Hydraulic Engineering (wawi) under the direction of Uwe Haberlandt. The ikg processes and analyzes the data from the geosensor grid, which are used to determine the precipitation quantities from the sensor data. The wawi deals with the topics of precipitation estimation and spatial interpolation as well as with the acquisition and quantification of the accuracy of the obtained data. display

(Leibniz University Hannover, 12.04.2012 - NPO)