With a $50,000 grant, DENSO North America Foundation is underwriting a research effort that gives LTU undergraduates in mechanical engineering, electrical/computer engineering and civil engineering an interdisciplinary opportunity to develop mobile, wireless sensor networks (MWSN) to help keep drivers safer.
“An MWSN combines vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity to give drivers 360-awareness of their surroundings,” said Kun Hua, professor of electrical/computer engineering. Along with James Mynderse, who teaches in the department of mechanical engineering, and Nishantha Bandara, who teaches in the department of civil engineering, he is coordinating three different research programs that include nearly 100 students. A number of courses and labs in all three departments will provide students with the knowledge needed to conduct the research.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5.7 million traffic accidents occurred in 2013 resulting in more than 32,700 fatalities. Intelligent traffic systems, like the ones the students are developing, will improve safety. In addition, information about road conditions and traffic congestion that will be transmitted to drivers also could improve traffic flow and reduce fuel waste.
The grant will give the students hands-on development experience, help build an inter-disciplinary lab and purchase the equipment and supplies necessary for the projects.
Currently in development, the sensor networks are expected to be installed on test vehicles in the summer of 2016.
“Our students are not only learning valuable, marketable skills, but they have the satisfaction of knowing that what they’re creating may actually save lives in the future,” added Hua.