While city dwellers may be used to railway crossings marked with
flashing red lights, the easier-to-miss warnings at rural crossings
often just consist of a sign. That's because there's no easy way of
providing electricity to such isolated locations. While solar panels
could provide part of the solution, a team of engineering students and
faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln believe that photovoltaics
alone can't consistently provide enough power. Instead, they devised
several systems that harness power from the rails themselves.
Aiming to boost bicycle security and rider safety in one stroke, Australian designers Tosika Maluma and Carson Tully have created a wearable bicycle lock with 60 built-in LED lights.
RECCO is well known within skiing and snowboarding circles. For decades, the Swedish company has been supplying ski patrols and rescue agencies with an avalanche rescue system that helps locate buried victims. It is now working on a more versatile, year-round system designed to make helicopter-based search and rescue faster and more efficient.
There are some incredible technological strides being made to improve road safety, but the key to avoiding accidents remains the same: seeing what's ahead. Unfortunately, avoiding potentially dangerous situations before they pose a threat can be difficult on well sighted roads during the day, let alone at unlit junctions after the sun sets. To try and give drivers a better chance of avoiding hazards, Ford is developing headlight technology that widens the beam at junctions and detects pedestrians and animals.
The Wearsafe Tag is a small, simple accessory designed to let smartphone users quickly and subtly communicate their whereabouts to friends and family. Currently looking for Kickstarter funding, it's designed to give users an extra layer of security, and can even push audio picked up from a connected smartphone to contacts.
Difficulties in testing for THC mean that curbing cannabis use amongst drivers hasn't been all that straightforward. Though marijuana use can be detected in the saliva for up to 24 hours after use, it can show up in blood and urine samples for anywhere up to a month. Existing methods like blood and urine samples therefore make it hard to determine whether a driver is actually impaired at the time that they jump behind the wheel. But companies like Canada's Cannabix are working on portable breathalyzers designed to test exclusively for recent use of the drug, a solution that could be of great assistance to law enforcement personnel in keeping impaired drivers off the road.
In the push to lower the road toll and make life easier for drivers, auto manufacturers are packing more and more semi-autonomous features into their cars. When it comes time to launch the new E-Class, Mercedes is hoping to be ahead of the curve by offering up a range of comfort- and safety-oriented semi-autonomous features in its new driver assistance package that do everything from help the driver steer in dangerous situations, to protect occupants' hearing in the event of a crash.
developed for ESA's next generation of ExoMars rover could soon be put
to work saving lives in a more terrestrial setting. GMV, an ESA
partner in rover development, is designing a robot to be used in the
gas and oil industry. It's a move which could mitigate some of the
human risk inherent with labor in the sector.
We've already seen systems that detect driver fatigue via steering wheel movements or by analyzing drivers' faces. German engineering firm Hoffman and Krippner, in cooperation with Guttersberg Consulting, has now developed what its designers believe is a better alternative – a fatigue-sensing steering wheel add-on that tracks the driver's grip.
Flotation vests save thousands of people from drowning every year, but they aren't of any use if they aren't actually worn. Despite their utility, many people choose not to wear such vests for reasons of comfort, fashion, or space, so Kingii is marketing what is calls the world’s smallest inflatable as an alternative. The focus of an Indiegogo campaign, the wrist-worn device is aimed at swimmers, surfers, sailors, and others who like getting their feet wet.