FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) – A modern twist to school bus safety is being developed at Kettering University in Flint.
A group of computer engineering students are working on a new system that will produce a dependable, low-cost, artificial intelligence safety agent for school buses.
Being a chaperone of over 20 school kids at the start or end of the school day on top of actually being behind the wheel can be a challenge for drivers.
So, Mehrdad Zadeh of Kettering University and a few of his computer engineering students are working on a solution when it comes to keeping kids safe without missing a beat.
“There’s a variety of things that we can do to make it safer for the students on the bus and artificial intelligence can play a very important role,” said Zadeh.
Zadeh said that role can protect potential dangers ranging from door pinching, detecting fire or smoke, all while keeping count of each student who enters and exits the bus within a matter of seconds and at a low cost.
“It’s not only engineering, it’s not only math. This is something useful for my environment that can make a real impact,” Zadeh said.
The system is brought to life by a group of ambitious undergraduate computer science students like graduating senior Henry Bensted.
“I think it’s solving a long standing issue that’s existed in the school busing system for a while,” Bensted said. “Like a friend of mine got pinched by the bus doors when she was a kid and the fact that I’ve heard of people actually experiencing the same issues first hand it did provide a lot of motivation to get the task done.”
The task begins with video detection from refurbished smartphones.
“This specific automatic passenger counting and anti-door pinching on the android phones has been in development for about a year,” said Bensted. “The bus driver doesn’t even have to look and it’s able to react faster than most humans can.”
But for Bensted, this mission brings on change for the greater good.
“The reason why I got into engineering, especially AI, is because I believe it has a lot of potential to improve our safety, reduce injuries and save human lives in the long term,” he said.
The school’s computer engineering department is hoping word will spread about the program so other districts can look into implementing the technology.