You are here: Home » News-ANI » Health
Business Standard

Researchers invent device that detects babies, pets left unattended in vehicles


Babies and pets left alone inside vehicles are a global problem and researchers have now developed a small, inexpensive device that can save lives by sounding an alert for a scenario that can result in serious harm or death in extremely hot or cold weather.

Developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo, the device uses a small inexpensive sensor that combines radar technology with artificial intelligence (AI) to detect unattended children or animals with 100 per-cent accuracy.

"It addresses a serious, worldwide problem," said George Shaker, an engineering professor at Waterloo. "This system is so affordable it could become standard equipment in all vehicles," said Shaker who supervised graduate students Mostafa Alizadeh and Hajar Abedi in the research.

Small enough to fit in the palm of a hand at just three centimeters in diameter, the device is designed to be attached to a vehicle's rear-view mirror or mounted on the ceiling.

It sends out radar signals that are reflected back by people, animals, and objects in the vehicle. Built-in AI then analyzes the reflected signals.

Development of the wireless, disc-shaped sensor was funded in part by a major automotive parts manufacturer that is aiming to bring it to market by the end of 2020.

Analysis by the device determines the number of occupants and their locations in a vehicle. That information could be used to set rates for ride-sharing services and toll roads or to qualify vehicles for car-pool lanes.

Its primary purpose, however, is to detect when a child or pet has been accidentally or deliberately left behind, a scenario that can result in serious harm or death in extremely hot or cold weather.

In such cases, the system would prevent vehicle doors from locking and sound an alarm to alert the driver, passengers and other people in the area that there is a problem.

"Unlike cameras, this device preserves privacy and it doesn't have any blind spots because radar can penetrate seats, for instance, to determine if there is an infant in a rear-facing car seat," said Shaker, a cross-appointed professor of electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical and mechatronics engineering.

The low-power device, which runs on a vehicle's battery, distinguishes between living beings and inanimate objects by detecting subtle breathing movements.

Researchers are now exploring the use of that capability to monitor vital signs of drivers for indications of fatigue, distraction, impairment, illness or other issues.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, November 11 2019. 12:59 IST