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Startpage > News > Online Spotlights > Windscreen Wiper

Floodwarning by Windscreen Wiper

RainCars uses unconventional measuring technique – DFG funds project at Leibniz Universität Hannover

Picture: Photo: Windscreen Wiper Floods regularly cause serious damage. But in Germany there are not enough rain measuring stations capable of forecasting the precise time and amount of water that is to be expected. Improved nationwide recording of precipitation could ensure more precise forecasting. The project RainCars at Leibniz Universität Hannover is taking the following approach: it uses cars as mobile measuring stations with windscreen wipers as rain sensors. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the project RainCars for an initial period of two years.

In Germany, rain measuring stations are often widely spaced. Rain radars deliver only indirect and thus unreliable data. As it is not possible to set up new measuring stations everywhere, the team of scientists came up with the idea of falling back on something that is available, in this case cars. The idea behind it is simple: windscreen wipers are switched on when it rains, so they are an indicator of precipitation and can measure it indirectly. The amount of rain is primarily determined by the frequency of the wipers. In addition, optical sensors are being investigated as potential rain sensors.

The central idea behind the project: relatively imprecise measurements in many places are better than exact measurements in very few. The position of the cars and the frequency of the wipers are measured and compared with data from permanently installed weather stations. The combination with the precise data makes it possible to establish quickly and precisely what the amount of water is and at what location. The cars also compare data with each other, so that at the end of the measurement process, data which is as precise as possible and evenly distributed will be available.

The results of the measurements serve as a data base for computer simulations. Different scenarios for traffic density and weather conditions are played out. In addition, the scientists are testing how precise the localised recording of rain is when using windscreen wipers as compared to conventional methods. To test the project in practice, cooperation with taxis or delivery vans is planned.

The project is run by a team of hydrologists and geo-informatics specialists from the Institute of Cartography and Geo-informatics (ikg) led by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Monika Sester and the Institute of Water Resources Management, Hydrology and Agricultural Hydraulic Engineering (wawi) led by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Haberlandt. The ikg processes and analyses data from the geo-sensor network to determine the amount of precipitation from the sensor data. The wawi is concerned with the estimation of precipitation, localised interpolation, and with recording and quantifying the accuracy of the data that have been collected.

The project is one of ten DFG projects presented in the travelling exhibition “Von der Idee zur Erkenntnis” (“from an Idea to Discovery”); the exhibition has been on show at the Ministry for Science and Culture in Hannover since 23rd April.

Photo material is available on request.

Notes for Editors

For further information please contact Prof. Dr.-Ing. Monika Sester, Institute of Cartography and Geoinformatics, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Telephone: +49 511 762 3588; E-Mail:

Meldung vom 12.04.2012


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