The Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a global leader in advancing roadside safety, renowned for innovations like the Steel And Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier utilized by NASCAR to mitigate impact severity. MwRSF’s mission? Making roads and highways safer for all.
Video capture plays a critical role in the facility’s operations. Collaborating with a diverse array of stakeholders – sponsors, engineers, and students – the facility spends months meticulously designing tests for roadside safety products. The facility uses high-speed cameras to capture every moment of a test crash, which sometimes only takes a few seconds in real-time.
Given the substantial resources invested in each test, every millisecond of the video becomes invaluable. In this unique environment, video is not merely a tool but rather the cornerstone of research and learning. That’s why MwRSF’s reliance on video goes beyond being a nice-to-have – it is critical to their mission.
Real-time feedback hurdles
Amidst numerous stakeholders eagerly awaiting test footage, the challenge of delivering this data in real-time became paramount. The urgency for immediate feedback during crash tests clashed with the complexity of managing large, high-speed video files, slowing down the process significantly.
Remote stakeholders urgently need this footage to begin designing or adjusting the next test, yet the logistical challenge posed by the large file sizes necessitated a faster solution. The financial burden and time hassle associated with attending the crash tests in person would be significant. This applies not only to the collaborators located across the country and the world, but also to the local UNL staff: the university campus is situated 12 miles away from the test proving grounds.
Pearl-2 facilitates immediate feedback
Enter Epiphan Pearl-2, a game-changer in MwRSF’s workflow. Widely adopted for mission-critical applications, Pearl-2 is often used in simulation, training, and testing environments to capture, enhance, record, and stream video.
Integrating Pearl-2 for live streaming crash tests enabled near-real-time reactions and instant feedback from the stakeholders. Aggregated high-speed camera footage streamed through Pearl allows remote viewers to witness events mere seconds after they occur, bypassing the delays of physical file transfers.
This approach revolutionized collaboration between the stakeholders. During the live streams, colleagues located miles away could connect quickly, engaging in immediate discussions and playback sessions of recorded test sections. The live stream became a platform for real-time feedback and discussion, creating a seamless bridge between stakeholders and fostering a shared commitment to advancing road safety.
Most importantly, one of the main advantages of using the Pearl-2 relates to the travel costs that are saved by not attending the crash tests in person.
I'm very happy and impressed with the Pearl. Whatever you can throw at it, there's a way to get it in there and be able to do what you want.
Faster collaboration, cost savings, and new ideas
Pearl’s impact on MwRSF’s operations was transformative. Immediate test results empowered stakeholders to swiftly tackle challenges, accelerating problem-solving and expediting road safety enhancements. Real-time streaming not only enhanced collaboration but also minimized stakeholder downtime, eliminating waiting periods for results.
The saved travel costs further justified the investment in Epiphan’s equipment, a critical aspect for a non-profit organization with stringent budget considerations.
MwRSF Test Site Manager and Research Associate Engineer Jim Holloway lauded Pearl’s reliability, user-friendliness, and versatility, stating, “I’m very, very happy and impressed with the Pearl. Whatever you can throw at it, there’s a way to get it in there and be able to do what you want.”
Looking ahead, plans to explore 4K workflows, SRT ingestion for low-latency streaming, and deeper utilization of Pearl’s capabilities underscore MwRSF’s ongoing commitment to refining testing methodologies. “A really neat thing about the Pearl is that it’s broadened my horizons,” Holloway noted, “the more I learn the capabilities, the more ideas I have”. Inspired by Pearl’s capabilities, Holloway envisions entirely new and unexpected applications for the device. Among them are live training sessions for engineers and students.
The integration of Pearl products marked a profound shift in MwRSF’s approach to roadside safety testing. Through live streaming capabilities and heightened efficiency, UNL’s initiative sets a new standard in safety innovation. Their forward-looking roadmap underscores dedication to innovation, strengthening their commitment to enhancing safety measures for all. The significant benefit of saving travel costs further reinforces the value and justification for the adoption of Epiphan’s equipment, aligning seamlessly with the financial considerations of a non-profit organization.