Slash
GPS-Equipped Cars Double As Effective Rainfall Trackers

RainCars travel across parts of a region to measure the amount of precipitation in different areas.

Leah Gonzalez
Leah Gonzalez on December 4, 2013. @leahgonz

Researchers at the Leibniz University of Hanover in Germany have come out with an initiative that uses RainCars or GPS-equipped cars to measure rainfall across various locations.

The project was inspired by the way drivers regulate the speed of their windshield wipers when in light or heavy rains.

Rainfall varies across different parts of a region but traditional rain gauges are situated too far apart to record the differences, which can be useful in predicting and preventing flood in different areas. Using moving cars to track rainfall can potentially capture the variations in the amount of rainfall across different locations.

The research team tested their theory by putting cars with different wiper systems under a rain simulator to find out the relation between wiper speed and rainfall intensity. They conducted tests with a person manually adjusting the wiper speed and they also conducted tests with optical sensors that automate wipers. The team also took into consideration the effect of car speed on the readings.

The main idea of the project is that relatively less precise measurements in many places are more reliable than accurate measurements in only a few areas.

The project was published in the European Geosciences Union open access journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences and has a project team consisting of specialists from the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformatics led by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Monika Sester, and the Institute of Water Resources Management, Hydrology and Agricultural Hydraulic Engineering led by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Haberlandt.

The RainCars project is being funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for an initial period of two years.

Leibniz University of Hanover

Source: Innovations Report

Image: kitch

Thinking...