Researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València, in collaboration with the company C-Robots, S.L., have developed a new safety system for city and school buses that detects the presence of pedestrians in the surroundings of the bus stop, warns the driver of dangerous conditions and, ultimately, directly affects the vehicle.
It was invented to help avoid accidents in area of the bus stop when the bus restarts its route. It was installed on an experimental basis in the company Castrosua S.A.'s urban buses -a project partner- and it is being implemented in those of the company Autobuses Furió SL's.
The system incorporates different cameras placed at strategic points of the bus that allow the driver to see where the rear-view mirrors can't; a screen placed next to the vehicle wheel; advanced software for detection of people and different warning devices synchronized with the software.
According to the researchers, this system is especially interesting for the issue of child safety. In this case, the traditional security systems present some deficiences, since when the children are near the bus, they are in the blind spot of the rear-view mirrors, which implies a risk. "Our unit automatically processes the images taken by the cameras and warns the driver even if he is not looking at the screen," says Armesto, researcher at the Institute of Design and Manufacturing of the UPV.
Warning, detection and tests
Besides the software, the researchers have developed a mechanism in the accelerator, which, if risk arises, can lock it; and a system that prevents the driver from spinning the wheel towards the area around the pedestrian.
"The system, at first, does not disable driving but when it detects a risk, warns the driver, slightly affecting the accelerator or the wheel. If the driver persists, it can generate an emergency lock," points out Leopoldo Armesto.
In order to test the unit features, the researchers did different tests in a controlled environment, causing the bus to brake when it detected the proximity of a person while the vehicle was running.
In order to validate the software processing ability, the researchers created a big bank of images taken from different places in the city of Valencia where there is a significant pedestrian traffic. Among these places were the Universitat Politècnica de València itself, the Estació del Nord of RENFE (North Train Station), the Hospital La Fe and the Más Camarena School (Bétera).
"We used a total of 12,000 samples of people seen from a vertical position, the same view than the bus cameras have. This big image bank is what allows the system to identify and detect the presence of a person in front of the bus, warn the driver and, if necessary, take direct action on the vehicle," explains Leopoldo Armesto.
This new safety system has been developed in the context of the project SAFEBUS, funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, through the program INNPACTO 2011, and by the European Union, through ERD Funds .
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