September 14, 2016 – The EMTRAC System was initially developed in 1986 to enable first response vehicles to request priority through signalized intersections, and fire departments have used the EMTRAC system since that time to safely reduce response times. Transit agencies also use the EMTRAC system to improve schedule adherence, as well as to make use of safety features such as collision avoidance and wayside worker notifications.
At the very start, EMTRAC development engineers eschewed the methods used by legacy signal-priority products, namely optical systems that utilize pulsed flashing lights from vehicles requesting priority. Instead, the vehicle-to-intersection communication on the EMTRAC system was performed through wireless RF, a method that proved itself far more reliable and is still used today. In fact, the EMTRAC system was the first patent issued for a wireless, microprocessor-based priority system.
In the early 1990s, the ongoing development of GPS offered another way to improve the EMTRAC system, so team engineers began exploring how to best employ GPS on the existing EMTRAC system. At this point, satellite navigation still had many limitations of its own, including satellite signal strength, receiver sensitivity and processing time, selective availability, and an incomplete constellation of orbiting satellites.
The early EMTRAC GPS design was able to accommodate many of the existing limitations, but development engineers were still unsatisfied with the results. So in 2004, after successive satellite launches to replace and add to the GPS constellation, as well as improvements to receiver capabilities, the EMTRAC team released the GPS-capable system, which was subsequently tested against competing systems by traffic agencies in both the US and Canada.
As the benefits of Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) were widely recognized in industry reports and recommendations, Transit Rail Priority (TSP) became a logical extension of EMTRAC system technology. This technology was not limited to buses though, as EMTRAC became an early adopter of system customization for transit rail, being utilized on both commuter rail and light rail vehicles.
Despite the positive results, EMTRAC engineers continue to look ahead to advances in technology, and they continue to develop new designs as new technologies become available, adding additional capabilities to the EMTRAC patent portfolio. Likewise, traffic, transit, and first-response agencies continue to offer their own ideas for enhancements to the EMTRAC system.
As system capabilities continue to evolve, the EMTRAC development team has also changed. The team is young and enthusiastic, and they are mindful of their ability to help improve both travel time and safety for those aboard EMTRAC-equipped vehicles. Their desire to collaborate with agencies and technological partners also remains. EMTRAC engineers keep in close contact with their counterparts at the various city and regional agencies using the system.
The distributors of the EMTRAC system also work closely with the traffic engineers and technicians, implementing enhancement suggestions and offering support when needed. These types of partnerships often require being involved in some of the most challenging agency projects, particularly those aimed at improving safety.
An example of one such initiative is improving transit-rail safety for trackside rail workers who often find themselves in the most vulnerable locations along transit lines. Trains that run quietly while at high speeds are an advantage for passenger service, but they also present a unique set of challenges for wayside rail workers.
To address these challenges, the EMTRAC team developed the Rail-Worker Notification System, which enables wayside workers, train operators, and central personnel to receive alerts when trains are approaching their position within a specified amount of time. Workers carry a small notification device, which alerts them of oncoming trains by a combination of audible, visual, and vibratory alerts—the more immediate the danger, the higher the alert level.
This patented system has been successfully tested by multiple transit rail agencies under some of the most demanding conditions, including through tunnels and depressions, high-speed sections, and high-interference pedestrian areas.
Another recent project involves improving bicycle detection, a continual challenge for traffic agencies as the number of bicyclists and bike lanes increases. To address this challenge, we released the EMTRAC Mobile-Detection App, which connects bicycle commuters with traffic networks—and enables traffic departments to achieve previously unreachable detection rates.
Improved transit and transportation grids are a key part of the future of transportation in North America, and the EMTRAC system must meet demanding operational and environmental requirements so that it achieves both the efficiency goals and safety goals of the forward-looking agencies using the system.
Please contact us for more information about the EMTRAC system and to receive detailed system specifications.