Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology for Transportation Signage Management
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Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology for Transportation Signage Management

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    Final Report 2018-2020
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    Transportation asset management is a strategic and systematic process of operating, maintaining, upgrading, and expanding physical assets effectively throughout their lifecycle. It focuses on business and engineering practices for resource allocation and utilization, with the objective of better decision making based upon quality information and well-defined objectives. One important component of transportation asset management is inventory management, which involves asset data collection and data transfer between field and central offices during the planning, design, fabrication, construction, operation, and maintenance stages of transportation projects. According to the FHWA Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), agencies are required to maintain traffic sign retroreflectivity at a certain minimum level. To ensure that traffic signs comply with MUTCD requirements, an effective management method must be developed. The current method involves locating signs, measuring their retroreflectivity, recording the inspection data into a database and replacing poor quality signs. This method requires all measurement work to be done in the field and each sign must then be updated in the database. The signs along the roadway have no associated ID numbers, which causes issues when trying to match the data recordings. This method is error prone and time consuming. This research explored the radio frequency identification (RFID) approach for transportation signage management. RFID is a wireless tracking technology that enables a reader to activate, read and/or write data remotely between a transponder and a radio frequency tag attached to, or embedded in, an object. Using RFID tags on the signs and RFID readers to send an encoded electromagnetic signal to interrogate an RFID tag attached to the object, the RFID tag responds by sending back its ID information. RFID software manages the interrogation, performs data processing and can store the data in its memory. This would allow for automation of remote ID interrogation with minimum human intervention and no line-of-sight requirement. This research developed a mobile traffic signage management system where the RFID tags are attached to traffic signs and an RFID reader mounted on a survey vehicle performs the RFID tag interrogation and programming while moving at driving speed. VTrans specified a system that can achieve remote interrogation at a distance of 60 feet in a vehicle driving 60 mph. The results from field tests indicated that the system created was unable to achieve these results. Using current RFID technology it is not feasible to achieve such specifications. This technology was able to achieve 100% scan rate at a maximum of 35 mph and a distance of 30 feet.
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