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UAS Warning Signs – Development and Evaluation

Image of Temporary UAS Warning Signs

Temporary UAS Warning Signs

Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) are an emerging technology being used in many fields, including surveying engineering. When UASs are used for these activities, they may operate in close proximity to active traffic. UASs could be distracting to drivers and increase safety concerns in these situations. Currently, there are no UAS warning signs, or temporary traffic control (TTC) signs approved by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) to specifically inform drivers of roadside UASs.

For this study, new UAS TTC signs were designed and a questionnaire was developed to explore perspectives on UAS specific TTC. Participants drove in a high-fidelity driving simulator, which measured speed reduction, as participants drove past various configurations of TTC elements in advance of a roadside UAS operation.

The results showed that drivers do support the use of UAS specific TTC signs. Speed data from the driving simulator showed that a TTC configuration of two advanced signs caused drivers to decrease their speed by an average of more than 2 km/h than when no TTC was present, while also inducing this deceleration at the most gradual rate.


Unmanned aerial systems (UASs), commonly known as drones, have recently achieved widespread commercial success from their increased availability and wide range of applications (Austin 2010). Remote sensing for surveying is one field where UASs are being increasingly used for their flexibility and relative low cost compared to traditional methods (Colomina and Molina 2014). These types of activities can occur in roadway work zones, where mapping and monitoring are necessary activities for infrastructure construction and maintenance. For this paper, a work zone is broadly defined as any construction or maintenance activity on or near the roadway where workers are present.

The introduction of UASs in roadside surveying operations constitutes a significant shift in the physical configuration of those operations, where mobile, flying objects are used instead of traditional terrestrial equipment. This change in the physical configuration could be expected to increase driver distraction, thereby posing safety risks. Currently, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) provides guidance on the configuration of temporary traffic control (TTC) devices for surveying operations (FHWA 2009). However, given the physical and visual change in surveying operations using UASs, there is a potential need to supplement existing traffic control devices (TCD) used to inform drivers of UAS survey operations near the roadway.

This paper evaluates the impact of various TTC configurations on driver behavior as observed through a driving simulator environment. In addition, this work designed new UAS specific TTC signs for UAS specific surveying operations and explored driver attitudes and preferences related to these new designs.

For the full paper CLICK HERE.

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