28 Mar 2017

Can thousands of accidents be prevented with an app?

One day, I was reading the news when I came across this troubling statistic “Every four minutes, someone dies in a road accident in India.” As I am driven to solve social and environmental problems using technology, I began brainstorming for ways to reduce road accidents and came up with an innovative advance collision warning system.

I imagine the cars of tomorrow to work as a cooperative, organized and harmonious organism rather than individual and independent vehicles.

To realize this vision, I’ve developed an advance collision warning system which requires significantly low infrastructure and is sure to drastically change the road accident demographics. The system is proposed to be integrated in the car dashboard and can additionally be in the form of a mobile application, in which case the vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists can also use it.

To give you an idea, if the system helps reduce these accidents by even 10%, it could save over 100,000 lives and 50 billion dollars per annum!

This is a satellite-navigation-based system, which, once installed in vehicles, gives an audiovisual warning to the driver before an imminent collision.The system works by creating a safety zone around each vehicle and through an algorithm, if an overlap of two or more safety zones is detected, the drivers are warned of an impending accident.

By early 2020, advancements in the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and mobile telecommunication technologies will open the doors to a whole new level of accuracy, speed and reliability in acquiring location data. It will then be possible for equipping vehicles with this advance collision warning system which will help avert accidents.

I’ve developed a mobile application which is a study tool and an experimental platform for taking the project forward. The application continuously acquires the user’s longitude, latitude and speed from the GPS satellites and uploads this data to a web server. And so is the case with all other vehicles equipped with this system. This way the driver gets a 360 degree view of the surrounding vehicles along with their distance relative to himself and their speed. Then back on the server, a rectangular safety zone is created around each vehicle whose length is a function of the vehicle’s speed and braking power. So when the safety zones of any two vehicles intersect, both users are given a warning signal so that they may slow down or maneuver accordingly. Now if a vehicle, not visible to the user, is speeding towards an intersection and could potentially collide with the user’s vehicle, the user gets an audio visual alert indicating the side from which the threat is perceived. The same algorithm also works for other collision scenarios such as forward collision.

This simple yet innovative concept for safer roads has been successfully tested with multiple vehicles in various real-life traffic and accident scenarios. “Round The Corner” has also won the second place at the prestigious Valeo Innovation Challenge 2015 which is an international contest to design a smarter car for 2030. It was particularly appreciated for its simplicity, affordability and easy global implementation.

The system can also be used for advanced traffic management, and for reconstructing an accident site which is of interest for insurance companies.

Now it is only a matter of a time, before the fusion of multiple satellite navigation systems and next generation mobile telecommunications pave the way for this innovative advance collision warning system. Then this system, installed in the smart and intuitive cars of tomorrow, could save over a hundred thousand lives annually.