DRBA wins Build a Better Mousetrap competition

Contest celebrates new technologies to improve transportation
October 23, 2017

The Delaware River and Bay Authority Maintenance Operations and Electronics Departments were chosen as the winners of the Delaware T²/LTAP Center’s 2017 Build a Better Mousetrap Competition for the attenuator camera. Along with bragging rights, the DRBA Maintenance Operations and Electronics Departments will be awarded two Delaware MUTCD-compliant Stop/Slow paddles for temporary traffic control, and the attenuator camera will be entered in the National Build a Better Mousetrap Competition.

"Fresh ideas like the attenuator camera perfectly demonstrate how new technologies can be applied to bring innovation and expand capabilities of the transportation industry," said Matheu J. Carter of the Delaware T²/LTAP Center.

The Build a Better Mousetrap competition celebrates cutting-edge solutions to everyday problems and issues that local and tribal transportation workers and other LTAP/TTAP clients encounter. These innovations can range from the development of tools and equipment modifications, to processes that increase safety, reduce cost, and improve efficiency and the quality of transportation. It is the epitome of doing more/better with less and, each year the nationwide competition proves that local personnel are always looking at old problems with new perspectives.

"Individuals who perform work around motoring vehicles are subject to many hazards, such as high-speed traffic, roadway debris and inclement weather," said David Carden, DRBA contracted services supervisor. "While crash-absorbing cushions mounted to highly visible trucks are utilized to help reduce these risks, certain work with limited accessibility requires remote surveillance to monitor traffic flow."

The DRBA's attenuator camera is a self-contained, solar-powered camera mounted to a high-reaching, telescopic mast on an existing truck-mounted attenuator that provides a live feed for first responders, traffic engineers and safety personnel. Using an existing TMA with a variable message sign, the attenuator camera alerts traffic to speed restrictions, roadway conditions and construction while also protecting individuals in a work zone with the attached impact-absorbing crash cushion. A 12-foot telescopic mast was procured to mount the camera, and guy wires were installed to combat wind and roadway forces to steady the mast.

In order to capture the energy from the sun, a stand was built that rotated 180 degrees in either direction and pitched the solar panels anywhere from 0 to 45 degrees. Doing this provides the true south-facing and pitching abilities of the panels to ensure optimal solar collection no matter the season or placement. An existing TMA with a VMS was used to mount the self-contained solar camera. This cutting-edge attenuator camera unit could be deployed to any site or location in all conditions.