“Those who count…” – Corriere della Sera national newspaper

Interview with the CEO of COMARK SRL on traffic systems with laser scanner technology

Article text:

How many trucks, cars and motorbikes pass on a highway? What is the occupancy level of a car park? Where is the nearest free car park? How many bicycles pass on a cycle path in a given period of the year?

As always, data and information are fundamental for the managers of each sector and this is even more true for those who, all over the world, deal with the different aspects of mobility and must organize routes, maintenance, give information to users, design new infrastructures or distribute funds to local authorities for the maintenance or construction of roads.

Comark Srl was born in Udine in 1994, on the initiative of Gianni Vincenzi, to provide exact data to mobility managers. Over time the company has grown and today, under the guidance of Gianni and his son Federico, engineer who joined the company in 2001, it has become one of the world’s leading operators in the traffic monitoring and parking sector with a turnover of 2 million euros (with a growth of 50% per year over the last three years) and 10 employees.

“From the very beginning – explains Federico Vincenzi – we have focused on the use of sensors to count the vehicles on the roads or in parking lots. We started with ultrasonic sensors that only allowed us to “count” the number of vehicles, up to laser-scanner sensors that return a three-dimensional profile of the vehicle from which we can obtain, with artificial intelligence algorithms, the type and size of the vehicles that are useful not only for a statistical matter, but also for applying tolls or for predicting the consumption of roads and planning maintenance. On this technology – he continues – we have only one major German competitor, with whom, however, we are able to compete thanks to the proverbial Italian flexibility ».

A flexibility that has allowed Comark both to create tailor-made solutions according to the needs of different customers, allowing it to be known in Europe, South America and Asia, and to “reinvent” its systems in times of pandemic to apply them to the counting of people (ensuring their privacy) who enter shops, supermarkets, airports, gyms, etc. in order to control the flow of people and avoid gatherings or exceeding the number of people allowed in a room.

Today, Comark vehicle detection systems are used in some countries both on automatic tracks (such as Telepass) and in those with operator to determine the right toll, while in other countries they are used on large portals straddling roads and motorways at purpose of pure counting useful to predict maintenance, to regulate traffic flows or to signal travel times and possible traffic jams to users. In Italy, for example, Comark sensors are rarely used for tolls, but, on the other hand, Società Autostrade is using a very advanced sensor, a mix of laser and doppler radar (a world patent of the Udine company) to detect the passages in certain strategic points such as the Variante di Valico, the Milan ring road, some new or particularly long tunnels.

“The new frontier, however – explain the two owners of the Friulian company – is the toll collection system called” free flow “, which overcomes the toll booths and automatic tracks, allowing the application of the toll with the only passage under a portal (even at 130 per hour) which detects, through sensors like ours, the type of vehicle. Obviously – they add – the use of these systems depends on the will of the political decision makers because they need either a communication device on each vehicle or the ability to detect the license plate and then send the bill home, or mixed systems. Comark has received homologation in South Korea, Singapore has an advanced “free flow” system because all cars must have a communication device, while Italy is experimenting with the mixed system on the Lombard foothills “.

In addition to counting the flows on the roads, Comark’s laser scanners are finding increasing application on new generation cycle paths or in more advanced parking systems, such as that of Ferrari in Maranello or those of some British cities that have all the single level parking spaces covered by a sensor that allows an app to report vacant parking spaces to users in real time, preventing users from turning in vain in search of a parking space, increasing traffic and pollution.

Carlo Tomaso Parmegiani