US20130293396A1 - Sequenced guiding systems for vehicles and pedestrians - Google Patents

Sequenced guiding systems for vehicles and pedestrians Download PDF

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US20130293396A1
US20130293396A1 US13/774,029 US201313774029A US2013293396A1 US 20130293396 A1 US20130293396 A1 US 20130293396A1 US 201313774029 A US201313774029 A US 201313774029A US 2013293396 A1 US2013293396 A1 US 2013293396A1
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modules
array
module
system according
signals
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Abandoned
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US13/774,029
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James R. Selevan
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James R. Selevan
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Priority to US6947308P priority Critical
Priority to US12/381,565 priority patent/US8154424B2/en
Priority to US13/440,930 priority patent/US8564456B2/en
Application filed by James R. Selevan filed Critical James R. Selevan
Priority to US13/774,029 priority patent/US20130293396A1/en
Priority claimed from US13/775,177 external-priority patent/US20130271294A1/en
Publication of US20130293396A1 publication Critical patent/US20130293396A1/en
Priority claimed from PCT/US2014/017756 external-priority patent/WO2014130842A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08GTRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS
    • G08G9/00Traffic control systems for craft where the kind of craft is irrelevant or unspecified
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21VFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS OF LIGHTING DEVICES OR SYSTEMS THEREOF; STRUCTURAL COMBINATIONS OF LIGHTING DEVICES WITH OTHER ARTICLES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F21V23/00Arrangement of electric circuit elements in or on lighting devices
    • F21V23/003Arrangement of electric circuit elements in or on lighting devices the elements being electronics drivers or controllers for operating the light source, e.g. for a LED array
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21VFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS OF LIGHTING DEVICES OR SYSTEMS THEREOF; STRUCTURAL COMBINATIONS OF LIGHTING DEVICES WITH OTHER ARTICLES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F21V23/00Arrangement of electric circuit elements in or on lighting devices
    • F21V23/04Arrangement of electric circuit elements in or on lighting devices the elements being switches
    • F21V23/0442Arrangement of electric circuit elements in or on lighting devices the elements being switches activated by means of a sensor, e.g. motion or photodetectors
    • F21V23/0471Arrangement of electric circuit elements in or on lighting devices the elements being switches activated by means of a sensor, e.g. motion or photodetectors the sensor detecting the proximity, the presence or the movement of an object or a person
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08GTRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS
    • G08G1/00Traffic control systems for road vehicles
    • G08G1/07Controlling traffic signals
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05BELECTRIC HEATING; ELECTRIC LIGHTING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05B37/00Circuit arrangements for electric light sources in general
    • H05B37/02Controlling
    • H05B37/029Controlling a plurality of lamps following a preassigned sequence, e.g. theater lights, diapositive projector
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21SNON-PORTABLE LIGHTING DEVICES; SYSTEMS THEREOF; VEHICLE LIGHTING DEVICES SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR VEHICLE EXTERIORS
    • F21S2/00Systems of lighting devices, not provided for in main groups F21S4/00 - F21S10/00 or F21S19/00, e.g. of modular construction
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21VFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS OF LIGHTING DEVICES OR SYSTEMS THEREOF; STRUCTURAL COMBINATIONS OF LIGHTING DEVICES WITH OTHER ARTICLES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F21V23/00Arrangement of electric circuit elements in or on lighting devices
    • F21V23/04Arrangement of electric circuit elements in or on lighting devices the elements being switches
    • F21V23/0442Arrangement of electric circuit elements in or on lighting devices the elements being switches activated by means of a sensor, e.g. motion or photodetectors
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21WINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASSES F21K, F21L, F21S and F21V, RELATING TO USES OR APPLICATIONS OF LIGHTING DEVICES OR SYSTEMS
    • F21W2111/00Use or application of lighting devices or systems for signalling, marking or indicating, not provided for in codes F21W2102/00 – F21W2107/00
    • F21W2111/02Use or application of lighting devices or systems for signalling, marking or indicating, not provided for in codes F21W2102/00 – F21W2107/00 for roads, paths or the like
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21WINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASSES F21K, F21L, F21S and F21V, RELATING TO USES OR APPLICATIONS OF LIGHTING DEVICES OR SYSTEMS
    • F21W2131/00Use or application of lighting devices or systems not provided for in codes F21W2102/00-F21W2121/00
    • F21W2131/10Outdoor lighting
    • F21W2131/103Outdoor lighting of streets or roads
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F21LIGHTING
    • F21YINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASSES F21K, F21L, F21S and F21V, RELATING TO THE FORM OR THE KIND OF THE LIGHT SOURCES OR OF THE COLOUR OF THE LIGHT EMITTED
    • F21Y2115/00Light-generating elements of semiconductor light sources
    • F21Y2115/10Light-emitting diodes [LED]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W84/00Network topologies
    • H04W84/18Self-organising networks, e.g. ad-hoc networks or sensor networks

Abstract

Devices, systems and methods wherein sequential signals are emitted from a plurality of signaling modules positioned in an array which demarcates a route or boundaries to be followed by a pedestrian or vehicle.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation in part of copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/440,930 filed Apr. 5, 2012, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/381,565 filed Mar. 14, 2009 which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/069,473 filed Mar. 15, 2008, the entire disclosure of each such application being expressly incorporated herein by reference.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates generally to devices and methods for vehicular and pedestrian traffic control to aid in navigation on land, sea, and air.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Flashing orange traffic safety lamps are commonplace along highways and waterways. Passive cones are often used to mark the boundaries or edges of roadways. They are used during road construction, traffic detours, and for emergency to route traffic through unfamiliar redirection. These passive cones are typically used over an entire 24-hour period, which includes darkness and may include poor visibility. Always on, or blinking, lights or reflectors are often used to define the border of a road that has temporarily changed and no longer follows the path that drivers expect or have become use to seeing. As shown in FIG. 1, when the detour includes a curve, the flashing light can be seen across the curve, creating confusion and disorientation. Curved roads or pathways can cause more confusion than straight roads or pathways due to human inability to judge distances, especially at night. The size of the lights or markers may not appear to substantially change in size with increasing distance from the observer. In addition, nautical buoys used to guide vessels into harbors or around dangerous shallows can sometimes be confusing and difficult to interpret.
  • Current alternatives do not exist. Traffic is often controlled using large, trailer-like signs with electric generators or photocells that are towed behind a vehicle and left at the detour site. These signs create a large arrow that directs traffic, but the arrow does not guide the driver around a curve or through unfamiliar road courses. Similarly, nautical traffic entering a harbor is guided via buoys and shore-based lights, which when set upon the backdrop of terrestrial lighting, can be confusing. Similarly, emergency or temporary aircraft runways for military, civilian, police, and Coast Guard air equipment, both fixed wing and rotary wing, lack proper sequenced lights that designate direction and location of the runway. This invention provides a system that is both low in cost and easy to implement, one that can be deployed quickly when necessary to aid aviators when landing or taking off on open fields or highways.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention provides devices, systems and methods wherein sequential signal emitting devices (e.g., an array of lights which flash in a sequence from the first light to the last light in the array) are used for guiding pedestrians or vehicles along desired routes or within desired boundaries.
  • In accordance with one presently-claimed embodiment of the invention, there is provided a system and method for marking a route, path or boundary, comprising: a plurality of signaling modules, each module comprising a signaling device, a radiofrequency apparatus and a control circuitry; the modules being positionable in an array which marks a route, path or boundary; whereby the modules positioned in the array will undergo radiofrequency communication with one another and the control circuitry will cause the signaling devices of the modules to emit signals in sequence from a first-positioned module of the array to a last-positioned module of the array; and wherein the modules are programmed to self detect their sequential order in the array and to self-adapt to changes in the positional order of the modules, elimination of one or more modules within the array and insertion of one or more additional modules within the array, thereby maintaining the emitting of signals in sequence from a first-positioned module of the array to a last-positioned module of the array.
  • In accordance with another presently-claimed embodiment of the invention, there is provided a system and method for guiding a pedestrian or vehicle to one of a number of possible destinations within a particular geographic area, building, campus, structure or the like, by the following steps: A) obtaining or providing a system which comprises a plurality of modules, each module comprising a signaling device, a radiofrequency apparatus and control circuitry, wherein the modules are positionable in an array which marks a route, and wherein the control circuits of the modules are operative to communicate with one another on a particular route via the radiofrequency apparatus and to cause the signaling devices of the modules to emit guidance signals in sequence from a first module of the array to a last module of the array; B) positioning modules of the system along routes to a plurality of possible destinations; C) programming a transmitter for a selected one of the possible destinations, thereby causing the transmitter to transmit control signals which selectively trigger the modules located on the particular route to emit sequential guidance signals to the selected destination; and, D) causing the transmitter to be carried by the pedestrian or vehicle so that the pedestrian or vehicle may follow the sequential guidance signals to the selected destination. In some embodiments, the signaling modules may be embedded in or adhered to surface(s) traveled upon by the pedestrian or vehicle, such as road(s), driveway(s), taxiway(s), floor(s), sidewalk(s) and walkway(s). In other embodiments, the signaling modules may be positioned on structures which demarcate routes to desired locations, such as buoy(s), channel marker(s), fence(s), wall(s), delineator(s) and traffic channelizing device(s). Also, in some embodiments, the guidance signals emitted by modules on one route may be distinguishable (e.g., a different color) from guidance signals emitted by modules on another route. Also, in some embodiments, guidance signals emitted by modules in response to one transmitter may be distinguishable (e.g., a different color) from guidance signals emitted from modules in response to another transmitter.
  • In accordance with yet another presently-claimed embodiment of the invention, there is provided a system and method for guiding pedestrians or vehicles along an intended path of travel having at least first and second boundaries, by the steps of: A) obtaining a plurality of signal emitting modules which undergo radiofrequency communication with one another and which include control circuitry which causes the modules to emit signals in sequence from a first-positioned module of the array to a last-positioned module of the array; B) positioning a first array of signal emitting modules in sequence along a first boundary of the intended path of travel; C) positioning a second array of signal emitting modules in sequence along a second boundary of the intended path of travel and D) programming the control circuitry so as to pair modules in the first array with adjacently positioned modules in the second array such that each pair of modules will emit signals in unison, whereby the pairs of modules emit signals in unison and in sequential order from the first pair to the last pair.
  • For the purposes of summarizing the invention, certain aspects, advantages and novel features of the invention are described herein. It is to be understood that not necessarily all such advantages may be achieved in accordance with any particular embodiment of the invention. Thus, for example, those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention may be embodied or carried out in a manner that achieves one advantage or group of advantages as taught herein without necessarily achieving other advantages as may be taught or suggested herein. These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will be more apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • A general architecture that implements the various features of the invention will now be described with reference to the drawings. The drawings and the associated descriptions are provided to illustrate embodiments of the invention and not to limit the scope of the invention. Throughout the drawings, reference numbers are re-used to indicate correspondence between referenced elements.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a road with an approaching vehicle and a plurality of typical randomly flashing lights, which are currently used and which can cause confusion and disorientation to the vehicle driver, according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a road with an approaching vehicle and a plurality of sequenced lights, which can reduce the confusion to the vehicle driver, according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 3A illustrates a front view of an exemplary signaling device, according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 3B illustrates a side view of an exemplary signaling device, according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 3C illustrates a side view of an exemplary signaling device with optical output only on one side and said optical output shielded from view from the other side of the device, according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a block diagram of the circuitry of the sequenced vehicle light system, according to an embodiment of the invention; and
  • FIG. 5 illustrates three sequenced lights configured for traffic flow visualization, according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of a roadway having pairs of sequenced signaling devices of the present invention demarcating the right and left edges of the roadway.
  • FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram showing a guidance system of the present invention for guiding pedestrian or vehicular traffic to a selected location.
  • FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a sequential signaling light of the present invention.
  • FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram of electronic circuitry of the sequential signaling light of FIG. 8.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • The invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is therefore indicated by the appended claims rather than the foregoing description. All changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope. Throughout the detailed description and remainder of this document, the author uses the term “traffic” to refer to motor vehicular, nautical, pedestrian, or aircraft movement.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a road 20 with a vehicle 22 driving along the road 20 into a turn. A plurality of flashing markers, including markers 30, 32, 34, and 36, are distributed along side the road 20. These markers 30, 32, 34, 36 can be passive with no illumination or signaling, or they can flash in unsynchronized patterns, in unison, or the like. The driver (not shown) of the vehicle 22 will see these markers and can easily be confused, especially at night, because the contour of the road and the turn may not be clear.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a road 20 with a vehicle 22 moving along the road 20 into a turn. A plurality of sequenced flashing markers 202-220 is distributed along the road 20.
  • Referring to FIG. 2, the lights can be placed alongside a street 20. In this illustration, ten lights 202-220 are distributed around a double corner. The first light 202 is closest to the oncoming car 22 with a tenth light 220 being furthest from the oncoming car. The observer, traveling with the car 22, sees the first light 202 flash on and then turn off. The second light 204 can flash on and then off shortly after light number 202. The third light 206 flashes on and off slightly after light 204 and so on. The observer or driver of the vehicle 22 observes a pattern that guides the eye around the corner of the road 20 in a manner that is not confusing or subject to misinterpretation. The lights, in an embodiment, can further be shaped like arrows pointing in the desired direction of travel. The arrows can be simple chevron shapes or they can be arrows with pointed heads, axially linear bodies, and can even comprise tails. In another embodiment, some lights can be arranged in a group to form a pattern, such as an arrow, whereby all lights in a given pattern or grouping are synchronized to turn on and off at approximately the same time. Thus, although different patterns can turn on and off at different times, lights within the pattern can be linked electronically to turn on and off as a unit, or substantially simultaneously.
  • When a plurality, defined as a series of two or more, of flashing lights 202-220 are placed on the road 20 or in the water to define a route or detour, or on a temporary runway, sequencing of the flash of each light will aid the driver, pilot, or helmsman in determining the direction of travel. The minimum number of lights 202-220 in a given system is two, while the maximum is unlimited, but practically can include ten, or several hundred, or several thousand, lights over the course of 0.01 miles to 100 miles or more.
  • Each light 202-220 is controlled by a logic circuit. The first light in the sequence 202 can flash at a rate determined by the user. The rate can be pre-determined, pre-set, or set at the time of installation. When the light flashes on, it sends a signal, either by radio wave, infrared signal, or via hard wire to the next light in sequence, which delays a predetermined time interval before it flashes. Alternatively, the first light 202 can delay a given amount of time prior to sending its signal to the second light 204, and so forth. This 2nd light 204 then sends a signal via radio wave, infrared, or via hard wire to the 3rd light 206 in sequence, and so on. The delay between receiving the trigger signal from the light lower in sequence number and the initiation of the flash is user defined, and may range from milliseconds to several minutes.
  • FIG. 3A illustrates a front view of a signaling unit 300. The signaling unit 300 comprises a base 302, a signal shell 304, a light source 310, a shield 312, a controller 318, a power supply 316, an on-off switch 308, and an electrical bus 320.
  • Referring to FIG. 3A, the light source 310, optical output device, or signaling device can be incandescent, light emitting diodes, discharge tube, as in stroboscopic light, fluorescent, etc. The logic circuit or controller 318 can comprise an electronic circuit, further comprising digital, analog, or hybrid technologies. The controller 318 can be fabricated of discreet components or it can be fabricated as a monolithic module or chip that performs all or most of the required functions. The logic circuit or controller 318 further comprises input and output ports that are operably connected to the signaling device 310. The inputs can include electrical power from the power supply 316, control and command input channels, on-off switching 308, and signal receivers. The outputs can include signal transmitters and lights or other optical, audio or other sensory signaling devices.
  • The power supply 316 of the device can comprise one or more batteries, and can use rechargeable batteries or those that are to be discarded. The batteries or power supply 316 can be operably connected to the power input of each individual system. The power supply 316 can comprise photovoltaic cells (not shown), which may be used to recharge batteries, allowing for sunlight to provide power to the device. The controller can comprise photo detectors to provide the option of the user to have the sequencing and flashing of lights to turn on automatically at sunset, and to turn off at sunrise.
  • When using radio frequency to send the signal, the range is anticipated to be less than about 100 meters, allowing the use of low-wattage output transmitters. The system can operate using protocols and technologies such as Bluetooth™, ZigBee™, or other standardized short-range protocols in the radio frequency spectrum.
  • FIG. 3B illustrates a side view of a signaling unit 300. The signaling unit comprises the base 302, the on-off switch 308, the lamp cover 304, the second lamp 306, the first lamp 310, and the illumination shield 312.
  • Referring to FIG. 3B, the shield 312 can be configured to prevent light from the output device 310 from being seen by an observer looking at the system 300 from a given direction. Thus, in an embodiment, the system 300 can have the option of emitting light in one direction only, providing guidance for traffic in one direction while not being visible by, and thus not having an impact on, traffic from another direction. In an embodiment, traffic coming from opposing directions (substantially 180 degrees apart) can both see the system light 310 but traffic only in the first direction can visualize the illuminated sequencing of the lights while the traffic from the other direction cannot see the lights 310. Directionality can be maintained sufficiently to be visible from traffic with vectors separated by as little as 30 degrees or as much as 180 degrees. Such directionality can be accomplished with baffles, shields, lenses, or the like 312. The system 300 can be incorporated in a unit that will mount onto existing traffic barriers, floating buoy, or incorporated into flexible orange (or other color) traffic cones. The baffles or shields 312 can have their orientation adjusted by installers, once the modules are in place, by rotating the baffles or shields 312 appropriately. In another embodiment, the baffles or shields 312 can automatically be adjusted by detection of the orientation of the other light modules in the system. In addition, the device can be constructed with two LEDs, 306 and 310 each facing in the opposite direction. The device can be programmed to provide proper sequencing for drivers approaching from opposite directions, that is, more than one signaling device 310 can be provided. Each LED or signaling device 310 can be independently linked to the proceeding and trailing light 310 in sequence allowing for the progression of light 310 movement in opposite directions simultaneously.
  • Further referring to FIG. 3B, different color lights or LEDs, for example 306, 310, can be mounted inside the lamp housing 304 such that the sequence of lights could provide color patterns. For example, the standard color might be yellow, with every 5th light revealing red color, such that as the light sequence traverses a distance, every 5th light flashes red in progression.
  • FIG. 3C illustrates a signaling unit 300 when viewed from the side showing light being emitted from the second lamp 306 and visible only from that side of the shield 312. No light coming from lamp 310 can be seen from the direction where lamp 306 shines.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a block diagram of the electrical components of the controller 318. The controller 318 comprises a radio frequency (RF) demodulator receiver 402, an RF amplifier 404, a decoder 406, a micro controller 408, an encoder 410, an RF transmitter 412, an LED driver 414, a first LED 310, a second LED 306, and an antenna 416.
  • The functional diagram of FIG. 4 reveals a radio receiver 402 that detects a digital code modulated on a radio frequency signal. This signal is demodulated, and the resulting digital code is provided as input to the decoder 406. In an exemplary embodiment, each device transmits this code, three times. If the code matches the appropriate sequence number of this unit on all three occasions, then the microcontroller 408 provides a confirmation signal, which then utilizes the LED driver 414 to turn on the first LED 310. At the same time, the microcontroller 408 sends a signal to the encoder 410, which provides a coded digital signal to a modulator (not shown) and then to the radio transmitter 412. This digitally encoded radio signal is now transmitted to all neighboring units. Only the unit next in sequence that matches this code will respond with the appropriate flash of the LED 310 mounted thereon.
  • The microcontroller 408 can be receiving multiple signals in rapid succession, and this provides the opportunity for the microcontroller 408 to turn on or off two or more LEDs 310, 306 at the appropriate time. This results in the capability of having multiple simultaneous progressive flashing sequencing for traffic moving in opposite directions.
  • Each device's sequence number can be programmed using an input keyboard, an electrical transmission from an external controller, or hardwired and controlled by a local switch such as thumbwheel or membrane switch. The sequence can be input through the individual module control input port. It can also be programmed from a distance using radio frequency, microwave, inductance, infrared or other electromagnetic radiation. Hence, the devices, or modules, can be deployed without regard to sequence number, and when in place, the user can simply walk along the path and define each devices sequence number. However, the unique aspect of this invention is the use of a “mesh” network that allows for the lights to assume the proper sequence number simply by applying power in the proper order or with proximity sensors. For example, in an embodiment, the user would simply locate a light and turn it on. The electronic circuitry and logic would “listen” to detect whether there were any other lights currently on and transmitting a signal. If no other signal is received in a predetermined period of time, then this device would assume identity number 1. When the 2nd light is turned on, it would listen for any other devices, and upon “hearing” number 1 transmitting a signal, but no other transmitted signals, it would then say, “I must be number 2”. When turned on, the 3rd light would receive (or “hear”) numbers 1 and 2, and if no other signals were heard it would then assume that “I must be number 3”, and so on. When used in a nautical setting, the buoys could be activated in order when placed in the water. In addition, the user can define the length of flash and the delay between reception of triggering signal and flash with input on the control panel of each device. In other embodiments, an array of modules is placed and once activated, would self-determine their order in the array, position in the system, etc., and set the activation sequence accordingly.
  • The flashing sequence is programmable, and may reverse to produce a particular guide or warning. Furthermore, a failure of one unit would not influence performance of the entire system. Should one unit fail, the next higher number will wait a predetermined number of milliseconds, and upon failing to receive a transmission from the failed unit, will continue to operate without interruption. This same methodology, that is the mesh network, provides a simple means by which a failed unit could be replaced. The person replacing the failed unit simply has to turn the replacement unit on. It will listen for a predetermined length of time. If it “hears” a number 10, for example, and a number 12, but no signal is received from a number 11, then it will assume that number 11 is out of the system and simply adopt that code number.
  • In another embodiment, the system of lights or modules can be configured to provide an indication of distance from the observer. The signaling system, of which the lights are the most visible part of each module, can comprise lights that are visibly dimmer the higher the number in the sequence to which they are assigned (or the opposite). The lights can, in another embodiment, illuminate at different visible wavelengths to provide some indication of distance. While this methodology is not as effective for a color-blind person, longer frequency colors such as the reds appear to be different distances from an observer than do colors near the cooler end of the spectrum (blue for example). Thus lights with lower sequence numbers can illuminate at different emission frequencies than lights, which are assigned higher numbers in the sequence. In another embodiment, the lights can be assigned to flash on for shorter periods of time, the further they are from the observer (higher in the sequence chain) than lights, which are closer to the observer (lower in the sequence chain). Thus, the lights, which are on longer will appear to be relatively brighter and thus closer to the observer. In yet another embodiment, the lights that are closer to the observer can flash on and off a number of times during their assigned “on” cycle. Lights further from the observer can be assigned to flash on and off a relatively lower number of times during their “on” cycle, thus appearing slightly dimmer or further away from the observer. Any combination of the aforementioned systems can be used to assist the driver or observer in determining the path in which the lights or signaling devices are arrayed, and thus the safe path that can be followed by the observer.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates the logic control used to create sequenced flashing of lights as illustrated in FIG. 2. FIG. 5 shows module number 202 comprising the light or sensory signaling devices 306,310, the controller, and a shield 312. The controller for light number 202 is shown transmitting an electromagnetic signal 320 to the controller for light number 204. There is no signal being emitted between the controller, or module, for light number 20 and the controller or module for light number 206 at this point in time. The signal from module number 204 to module number 206 will be generated at a future instant in time. The shield or baffle 312 prevents viewing of the lights 306, 310 from an undesired direction, thus preventing confusion on the part of drivers coming from an oncoming direction, for example. Both lamp 306 and 310 are illuminated in module 206.
  • A system of signal emitting modules 300 is disclosed. The modules emit light or other signals to warn oncoming traffic that a road or other pathway has changed or is traversing a tortuous pathway. The modules 300 are interconnected in a sequence so that they flash on and off in a pattern that leads the driver or observer along a path with less confusion than with randomly flashing or steady lights or reflectors. The modules are self-powered and can be arrayed first and programmed following deployment. The programming can be done with the described mesh technology, an external controller, or by dialing a specific number in each of a plurality of distributed controllers. The modules can improve highway safety by reducing driver confusion. The modules are arrayed to prevent a driver from seeing them from an oncoming direction, or, using two independent sequencing software programs for opposite facing LEDs, the driver coming from the opposite direction will have his or her own guiding system.
  • The visual output device, which can be a light, led, or other visual emitter can be highly directional, omni-directional, or quasi-directional. Each visual output device can be set to emit electromagnetic radiation in the visible range or a range outside the visible spectrum. Such radiation can be in the infrared, ultraviolet, microwave, or radio frequency range. Such radiation can be configured to be received by, and interact with, a receiver in an approaching or departing vehicle that can display the information on a Global Positioning System (GPS) display or other mapping device within the vehicle. Furthermore, each module supporting the visual output devices can comprise a GPS receiver that can provide its position and then transmit that position to the approaching or leaving vehicle such that the information may be used to locate one, a few, or all of the modules on a GPS display or other mapping system.
  • In addition to a single row of sequenced signaling modules, a sequenced signaling system of the present invention can be deployed in such a way as to provide for two or more rows of sequenced signaling modules (e.g., signaling sequenced lights) which demarcate opposite boundaries of a lane or other intended path of travel. An example of this is shown in FIG. 6. In this example, an intended path of travel 600 has a right boundary 600R and a left boundary 600L. It is desired to guide a vehicle 602 along this path of travel 600. Pairs of signaling modules comprising sequenced signaling lights 606R/606L, 608R/608L 610R/610L, 612R/612L, 614R/614L, 616R/616L, 618R/618L, 620R/620L and 622R/622L are positioned along the right and left boundaries 600R, 600L as shown. These sequenced pairs of signaling lights are programmed so that the lights in each pair (e.g., 606R and 606L) go on and off in unison (e.g., at substantially the same time) and further such that the pairs of signaling lights flash in a progressing “down-stream” sequence (i.e., 606R and 606L . . . then 608R and 608L . . . then 610R and 610L . . . then 612R and 612L . . . ,etc.). Thus, the pairs emit signals in unison and in sequential order from the first pair to the last pair. In this manner a pedestrian or vehicle such as a motor vehicle on a road, marine floating vehicle (boat or ship), or fixed wing or rotating wing aircraft would see a left-right pair of lights guiding them in the direction of travel. This would, in effect, define the width of a lane or intended path of travel 600 that the motor vehicle or boat or aircraft might travel.
  • In another embodiment, the invention is useable to guide pedestrians or vehicles on one of a selected number of pre-set paths. For example, FIG. 7 is a schematic illustration of a system 700 which may be used to guide a visitor to a specific room or location within a large building, campus, complex of buildings, etc. In this example, the system 700 comprises a destination signal transmitting device 702 comprising a programmable transmitter 706, a programming device 704 useable to program the transmitter 706 to cause it to emit signals for a desired destination and a plurality of arrays of sequential signaling devices 718, 720, 722 positioned along possible routes 712, 714, 716. The transmitter 706 may comprise any suitable type of programmable signal emitting chip or apparatus, examples of which include CC2531 System on Chip (SoC) available from Texas Instruments Incorporated, Dallas, Texas or the A2530R24AZ1 System on a Chip available from Anaren, Inc., East Syracuse, N.Y. The transmitter 706 may be housed or incorporated into various types of portable housings or secondary articles, such as a clip-on visitor identification card (shown in the example of FIG. 7), dongle, card on a lanyard, clip on box or strip, etc. The programmer 504 may be any suitable type of device useable to program the transmitter 706 to emit signals for a desired destination on one of the possible routes 712, 714, 716. In the particular example shown in FIG. 7, the programming device 704 comprises a housing having a user interface 710 such as a keyboard and a slot 704. The operator uses the user interface 710 to input a desired destination 718T, 720T or 722T located on one of the possible routes 712, 714, 716. The destination signal transmitting device 702 is then inserted into slot 504 and electronics within the housing program the transmitter 706 to emit signals that are specific for the desired destination 718T, 720T or 722T. Commercially available examples of such programming electronics includes those available in connection with the CC2531 System on Chip (SoC) available from Texas Instruments Incorporated, Dallas, Texas or the A2530R24AZ1 System on a Chip available from Anaren, Inc., East Syracuse, N.Y. After the transmitter 706 has been programmed for the desired destination, the visitor then wears or carries the destination signal transmitting device 702 and signals emitted from the transmitter 706 are received by, and cause sequential signals (e.g., flashes of light) to be emitted by, only those sequential signaling devices 718, 720 or 722 positioned along the particular route 712, 714 or 716 that leads to the desired destination 718T, 720T or 722T. In some installations, the sequential signaling devices 718, 720 or 722 may be embedded in or adhered to the surface(s) traveled upon such as floor(s), sidewalk(s), walkway(s) and the like and may comprise LED illuminated circuits that would read via radio or other media (sound, light, radio frequency) the “code” that would trigger the microcontroller to display the proper sequence guiding the pedestrian to their destination. In some embodiments, the signals emitted by the sequential signaling devices 718, 720 or 722 on one of the possible routes may be distinguishable (e.g., different colored light flashes) from those on another possible route, or the signals from the sequential signaling devices 718, 720 or 722 triggered by one particular transmitter 706 may be distinguishable (e.g., different colored light flashes) those triggered by another particular transmitter 7-6, thereby preventing confusion between routes being followed by 2 or more visitors at the same time (e.g., one visitor might follow the yellow string, while another green, and yet another the red sequenced string of light). This system 700 may be used to direct movement of visitors or others, on foot or in vehicles, within large structures or campuses, such as hospitals, shopping malls, military establishments (Pentagon, military bases, etc.), universities, factories, amusement parks, zoos, etc. Power for the destination signal transmitting device 702 and/or sequential signaling devices 718, 720 and 722 may be supplied via battery, mains, or solar charging systems. External programming and control of various parameters (software updates, light sequence pattern, etc.) of the sequential signaling devices 718, 720 and 722 could be accomplished using an external “dongle” or a “smart phone” software application. The user could download an application to “speak” to the, sending software updates, timing sequences, etc.
  • FIG. 8 shows one of many possible embodiments of a sequential signaling light device 1000 of the present invention. This device 1000 comprises a flashing light 1002 on a housing 1004. Within the housing 1004 is electronic circuitry, including a microprocessor, battery or other power source and a transmitter/receiver. A schematic diagram of the electronic circuitry of this device is shown in FIG. 9. The housing may be configured in various ways to facilitate attachment to or positioning on a desired surface of structure. In this particular example, the housing 104 has a generally cylindrical shape with a cylindrical member 1006 extending downwardly and a tubular space 1008 defined between the outer surface of the downwardly-extending tubular member 1006 and the inner surface of the outer cylindrical housing 1004. This configuration allows the device 1000 to be easily mounted on top of a cylindrical tubular structure such as a cylindrical tubular traffic delineator. Various adapters may also be inserted in or attached to the base of the housing 1004 to facilitate its attachment or mounting on other types of structures such as cones, barricades, walls, fences, barriers, etc. As explained above, a plurality of these sequential signaling light devices 1000 may be positioned in a desired array, one after another. The electronic circuitry 1004 both receives and transmits necessary analog and digital information to the next light signaling device 1000 in sequence. The signaling devices do not have to be numbered, nor does a user have to set each light physically in a particular order. The design provides information inherent in the system, utilizing “mesh”, or matrix, technology. There is no need for any user interface, such as a switch, to designate the number of each light. Adjacent lights or modules can be set to recognize their position in a sequence automatically such that the user need not physically set the sequence of module firing. This position recognition can be accomplished using proximity sensors, global positioning receivers, RFID devices, and the like. The light signaling devices 1000 may be programmed to self-detect and adapt to the ordering of the individual signaling devices 1000 within an array. If one device 1000 within an array is removed or becomes non-functional, the remaining devices 1000 in the array will sense that such device has been removed or is not functioning and will automatically re-adjust their sequential communication and signal timing accordingly. Similarly, if the positions of individual signaling devices 1000 within an array are switched or rearranged, the signaling devices 1000 in that array will self-adapt to the switched or rearranged positioning of individual devices 1000 so that the desires sequential (from one to the next, to the next, to the next, etc.) is maintained. Additionally, if an additional or replacement device 1000 is inserted within the array, the remaining devices 1000 within the array will sense signals being emitted from the new device and will include incorporate the new device into the array such that the new device will emits signals in sequence along with the other devices in the array. Also, in some situations the may be two or more arrays of devices positioned closely enough to one another that signals from devices 1000 in one array could be received by devices 1000 in another array. In this regard, the electronic circuitry of the devices 1000 may be programmed to be array-specific so that sequential communication is maintained within each separate array without inadvertent crosstalk between devices in neighboring or nearby arrays. Also, in at least some embodiments, the electronic circuitry of the signaling devices 1000 may be programmed or reprogrammed to effect signaling variables (e.g., timing of flashes, color of flashes, pattern of flashes, system operational hours, etc.) either by way of a user interface on each signaling device 1000 or from a central control/programming device, which may comprise a smartphone, laptop computer, tablet computer or other portable device. One example of software useable to program these signaling light devices 1000 in this manner is described in copending United States Provisional Patent Application No. 61/767,937 entitled Methods and Systems for Synchronizing the Behavior of Discrete Digital Devices, also filed on Feb. 22, 2013, the entire disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein by reference.
  • It is to be appreciated that the invention has been described here above with reference to certain examples or embodiments of the invention but that various additions, deletions, alterations and modifications may be made to those examples and embodiments without departing from the intended spirit and scope of the invention. For example, any element or attribute of one embodiment or example may be incorporated into or used with any other embodiment or example, unless otherwise specified or unless doing so would render the other embodiment or example unsuitable for its intended use. Also, where the steps of a method or process have been described or listed in a particular order, the order of such steps may be changed unless otherwise specified or unless doing so would render the method or process unworkable for its intended purpose. All reasonable additions, deletions, modifications and alterations are to be considered equivalents of the described examples and embodiments and are to be included within the scope of the following claims.

Claims (25)

What is claimed is:
1. A system for marking a route, path or boundary, said system comprising:
a plurality of signaling modules, each module comprising a signaling device, a radiofrequency apparatus and a control circuitry;
the modules being positionable in an array which marks a route, path or boundary;
whereby the modules positioned in the array will undergo radiofrequency communication with one another and the control circuitry will cause the signaling devices of the modules to emit signals in sequence from a first-positioned module of the array to a last-positioned module of the array; and
wherein the modules are programmed to self detect their sequential order in the array and to self-adapt to changes in the positional order of the modules, elimination of one or more modules within the array and insertion of one or more additional modules within the array, thereby maintaining the emitting of signals in sequence from a first-positioned module of the array to a last-positioned module of the array.
2. A system according to claim 1 wherein the radiofrequency communication between the modules is wireless.
3. A system according to claim 1 wherein the signaling devices emit visible warning signals.
4. A system according to claim 1 wherein the signaling devices emit warning signals which are not visible but which may be received and sensed by apparatus operative to receive and sense said warning signals.
5. A system according to claim 4 further comprising apparatus operative to receive and sense said warning signals.
6. A system according to claim 1 wherein the signaling devices comprise light emitters which emit flashes or periods of light.
7. A system according to claim 1 wherein the signaling devices comprise devices selected from the group of: incandescent lamps; light emitting diodes;
discharge tubes; stroboscopic lights; fluorescent lights; light emitters that emit visible light; light emitters that emit light which is not visible but which is detectable by a sensor, infrared lights, ultraviolet lights; microwave emitters and radio frequency emitters.
8. A system according to claim 1 wherein each module further comprises a power source.
9. A system according to claim 8 wherein each module comprises a power source selected from: batteries; photovoltaic cells; wind energy; and thermal energy.
10. A system according to claim 1 wherein the control circuitry in the modules may be programmed or reprogrammed from a smartphone, laptop computer, tablet computer or other portable device.
11. A system according to claim 10 wherein the control circuits comprise a mesh network.
12. A system according to claim 10 wherein the control circuits comprise position-determining apparatus selected from: proximity sensors; global positioning receivers and RFID devices to facilitate determination of the respective positions of modules in the array.
13. A system according to claim 10 wherein the control circuits are operative to determine when a module of the array becomes missing or non-functional and to allow a replacement module to assume that identified module's position in the array.
14. A system according to claim 1 wherein the control circuits are adapted to allow some of the modules within the array to be grouped in one or more subsets and to thereafter cause the signaling devices on the modules within each subset to emit warning signals that are simultaneous or otherwise different from warning signals emitted by other modules that are not within that subset.
15. A system according to claim 1 wherein the modules are adapted to emit warning signals which can be viewed or received and sensed from one vantage point but not from another vantage point.
16. A system according to claim 15 wherein the warning signals can be viewed or received and sensed by traffic traveling in a first direction but not by traffic traveling in a second direction that is substantially opposite the first direction.
17. A system according to claim 15 wherein the signal emitters emit flashes or periods of light and wherein the modules comprise baffles which cause the emitted flashes or periods of light to be viewed or received and sensed from one vantage point but not from another vantage point.
18. A method for guiding a pedestrian or vehicle to a desired destination within a geographic area, building, campus, structure or the like, said method comprising the steps of:
A) obtaining or providing a system which comprises a plurality of modules, each module comprising a signaling device, a radiofrequency apparatus and control circuitry, wherein the modules are positionable in an array which marks a route, and wherein the control circuits of the modules are operative to communicate with one another on a particular route via the radiofrequency apparatus and to cause the signaling devices of the modules to emit guidance signals in sequence from a first module of the array to a last module of the array;
B) positioning modules of the system along routes to a plurality of possible destinations;
C) programming a transmitter for a selected one of the possible destinations, thereby causing the transmitter to transmit control signals which selectively trigger the modules located on the particular route to emit sequential guidance signals to the selected destination; and,
C) causing the transmitter to be carried by the pedestrian or vehicle so that the pedestrian or vehicle may follow the sequential guidance signals to the selected destination.
19. A method according to claim 18 wherein the modules are embedded in or adhered to the surface(s) traveled upon by the pedestrian or vehicle.
20. A method according to claim 19 wherein the surface(s) is/are selected from: road(s), driveway(s), taxiway(s), floor(s), sidewalk(s) and walkway(s).
21. A method according to claim 18 wherein the modules are positioned on structures which demarcate routes to desired locations.
22. A method according to claim 21 wherein the structures which demarcate routes to desired locations are selected from: buoy(s), channel marker(s), fence(s), wall(s), delineator(s) and traffic channelizing device(s).
23. A method according to claim 18 wherein guidance signals emitted by modules on one route are distinguishable from guidance signals emitted by modules on another route.
22. A method according to claim 21 wherein guidance signals emitted by modules in response to one transmitter are distinguishable from guidance signals emitted from modules in response to another transmitted.
23. A method for guiding pedestrians or vehicles along an intended path of travel having at least first and second boundaries, said method comprising the steps of:
obtaining a plurality of signal emitting modules which undergo radiofrequency communication with one another and which include control circuitry which causes the modules to emit signals in sequence from a first-positioned module of the array to a last-positioned module of the array; and
positioning a first array of signal emitting modules in sequence along a first boundary of the intended path of travel;
positioning a second array of signal emitting modules in sequence along a second boundary of the intended path of travel;
programming the control circuitry so as to pair modules in the first array with adjacently positioned modules in the second array causing pair of modules to emit signals in unison;
whereby each pair of modules emits signals in unison and in sequential order from the first pair to the last pair.
US13/774,029 2008-03-15 2013-02-22 Sequenced guiding systems for vehicles and pedestrians Abandoned US20130293396A1 (en)

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US6947308P true 2008-03-15 2008-03-15
US12/381,565 US8154424B2 (en) 2008-03-15 2009-03-14 Sequenced vehicular traffic guiding system
US13/440,930 US8564456B2 (en) 2008-03-15 2012-04-05 Sequenced vehicular traffic guiding system
US13/774,029 US20130293396A1 (en) 2008-03-15 2013-02-22 Sequenced guiding systems for vehicles and pedestrians

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US13/775,177 US20130271294A1 (en) 2008-03-15 2013-02-23 Sequenced guiding systems with location designation capability
PCT/US2014/017756 WO2014130842A1 (en) 2013-02-22 2014-02-21 Sequenced guiding systems
US15/177,192 US9847037B2 (en) 2008-03-15 2016-06-08 Sequenced guiding systems for vehicles and pedestrians
US15/847,235 US20180225980A1 (en) 2008-03-15 2017-12-19 Sequenced guiding systems for vehicles and pedestrians

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