Beacons by Waze counter tunnel blackout

October 3, 2016  - By


To assist drivers losing their navigation assistance in tunnels such as those in New York, Baltimore, Boston and Pittsburgh, app maker Waze has begun pilot projects installing electronic beacons. Each about the size of an E-ZPass, the beacons are installed within tunnels to guide the way via Bluetooth. No GPS signal in the tunnel means no directions upon emerging into daylight. That can cause a missed exit — or worse.

Waze spokesperson Meghan Kelleher said one beacon is placed every 40 feet or so to provide seamless smartphone navigation throughout the tube and to allow people to note traffic troubles on the crowdsourcing app. But even non-Waze users can benefit.

“It’s actually an open technology,” Kelleher says. “We’re making it available free of charge to other navigation services.”

Each mile of beacons costs about $300 per year. The hardware is made by Bluvision with batteries are designed to last about six years.

Waze has just switched them on in the Fort Pitt and Liberty tunnels in Pittsburgh with an eye on getting governments and other agencies to foot the bill in the rest of the world’s tunnels.

Photo: the justified sinner via / CC BY-NC-SA

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