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[] Kanada will Star-Wars-Technologie zum Schutz vor Elchen einsetzen,

Es geht um einen hochentwickelten Infrarot-Fotosensor, der in Verbindung
mit elektronischen Verkehrsschildern vor Wildwechsel warnen soll. 
Interessant dabei: Mal wieder ein spin-off aus der militärischen
Forschung - davon hat man in den letzten Jahren bei dem ganzen Gerede
über "Commercial off the Shelf"-Technologien kaum etwas gehört. Und: Das
zivile Gerät wird voraussichtlich bereits _vor_ der militärischen
Nutzung eingesetzt werden.

The Bullwinkle Defense System 
By Charles Mandel 

2:00 a.m. Feb. 18, 2002 PST 
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The same Star Wars technology that the
U.S. military developed as a defense system against missiles is now
helping Canadians in their battle against pesky wildlife. 

InTransTech is using infrared photo sensors to help detect animals on
British Columbia's mountain roads in the hope it will cut back on the
number of accidents caused by motorists slamming into deer, moose and
other wildlife. 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory pioneered the sensors originally meant
for the Star Wars program's satellites in the detection of incoming
missiles. InTransTech, of Edmonton, Alberta, is a spinoff company of
QWIP Technologies, the incubator used to commercialize the lab's

While the sensors have yet to be deployed in any official military
application, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)
believes they're a viable solution to the moose-mashings and deer damage
that take place with disturbing regularity on the province's highways. 

Last year, B.C. drivers reported more than 10,000 accidents involving
wildlife, resulting in about CDN$20 million worth of insurance claims. 

Deer are the leading cause of crashes because they're common throughout
the province, according to Graham Gilfillan, ICBC's manager of material
damage loss prevention. 

However, he warns the more "catastrophic" collisions come from moose.
"Of course, the bigger the animal, the more likelihood of someone
getting seriously injured or killed," Gilfillan cautions. 

Moose are particularly dangerous because of their long legs, he
explains, noting that when a car plows into one of the ungainly mammals,
it is likely to come up over the hood and right through the vehicle's

"In moose alone last year, we paid out close to $2 million for accident
claims in Northern B.C.," Gilfillan says. 

The infrared sensors can scan several miles of road and relay warnings
to 4-by-8 foot digital signs posted along the highway. The signs will
identify what species of animal is on the road and warn drivers to slow

The animal detectors will be field-tested in British Columbia's rugged
Kootney Mountain region in April, with production and installation
scheduled for 2003. 

Housed in trailers, the cameras scan the area for "heat signatures."
They are sensitive enough to detect heat sources from one pixel to the
next of one, one-hundredth of a degree Celsius, according InTransTech's
project head, Riad Chehayeb. 

InTransTech's standard sensors contain some 81,900 pixels and can work
through darkness, smoke, snow, fog and rain, although precipitation will
reduce the system's visibility. 

The prototype camera system will also feature a radar gun to check
motorist speeds to determine if they're actually slowing down after
receiving the sign's warning. Gilfillan says in Jasper National Park
reduced speed limits were tested, resulting in 40-percent fewer animal

"The problem with that, is you're slowing down all the traffic for the
very few times there's actually an animal on the road," Gilfillan says.
"That affects the trucking industry. 

"Our intent is to try and get people when they see the sign to say,
'This is real,' and they'll slow down, because they just don't want to
be involved in it." 

A single camera system capable of watching over several miles of road
costs CDN$50,000. In contrast, it cost $40,000 to $80,000 to fence about
one mile of highway and far more for tunnels for the animals to get past
fenced areas. 

Gilfillan says the fences also aren't environmentally friendly to the
animals, because they have an impact on their migratory ability. 

British Columbia has at least 50 trouble spots where motorists pile into
animals with some regularity that would require the signs. 

Even so, Gilfillan says the problem is not as great in Canada as in the
United States. One of the Eastern states, he notes, has collision rates
over 55,000 annually of deer and cars. 

Chehayeb hopes an advanced version of the sensor will eventually warn
motorists about objects on the highway, including ice, debris and even
road kill. 

InTransTech hopes that if the B.C. test is successful it will be able to
market the sensors worldwide, reducing the number of insurance claims as
well as the quantity of crushed animals.

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