The state of Maryland is reportedly testing new technology to replace humans holding “stop” signs to direct traffic at road work zones.
In another example of the slowly creeping effects of automation, the state of Maryland is testing new technology to replace human employees at road work zones who hold “stop” and “go” signs to control traffic. The Baltimore Sun reports that the Maryland Department of Transportation ‘s State Highway Administration has plans to use an automated flagging system to replace human workers that direct traffic via poles with “Stop” and “Slow” signs attached.
“Human crews face great danger when controlling traffic with handheld Stop and Slow signs to alternate traffic,” said Charlie Gischler, a spokesman for the state highway agency. “This new system is going to eliminate the need for somebody to stand in the road next to traffic.”
The state plans to park a trailer-mounted device — referred to as automated flagger assistance device (AFAD) — beside road work zones with the same stop and go signs mounted to the trailer, signs will also be attached which will read “Wait on Stop,” and “Go on Slow.” The stated claims that certified human flaggers will still stand off the road, near the trailers in order to intervene if needed.
The first automated flagger assistance device is set to be tested at a drainage project on Bedford Road (Maryland 807), near Cumberland, Maryland.