No more forgotten kids inside vehicles

By Zainab Al Nasseri — MUSCAT: March 19 – A new safety system invented by an Omani engineer protects children from being forgotten inside school buses. Abdualziz al Abri, a graduate from Caledonian College of Engineering, designed the system as part of his graduation project which gives signals indicating a child left onboard 30 seconds after the vehicle is turned off. “We hear every day tragic accidents of children because they have been left behind in school buses. Those deaths have usually been caused by a buildup of excessive heat or excessive cold inside the vehicle during the absence of the driver.
“Children in particular are susceptible to dehydration when subjected to elevated temperatures within an enclosed vehicle,” Al Abri said.
Explaining about the system, he said that it consists of a number of human detecting sensors such as PIR chair occupancy sensors, which sends a signal to microcontroller in case of detecting any human presence.
schoolbusThen the controller sends a command to the buzzer to produce a sound alarm and rolling down the windows for ventilation purpose.
The system is designed to constantly send text messages and location of the bus to the driver and the school administration.
The Omani inventor looks at making his product available locally and internationally, yet, he talked about some possible obstacles where the system may lose efficiency.
“In different parts of the world, there are areas where no mobile network is available. Due to lack of connectivity of mobile phones in these areas, an SMS could not be delivered. In addition, elderly drivers may not be familiar with the use of mobile phones and may find it difficult to use this system.
“In such case, backup measures such as alarms, external display and forced ventilation could help”.
While designing the project, Al Abri mentioned that he faced some challenges but was able to overcome them; such as lack of essential components in the local market.
“I had to order some materials online which took time till delivered. Also, the project required learning to use a new operational software programme, which demanded a great deal of practice, but luckily I was able to learn fast,” he added.
The product is suitable not only for vehicles, but for all kinds of transportation like ships and airplanes as it works with the same mechanism.
Regarding his future plans, the young engineer indicated that he looks forward for support from bodies concerned to further develop his project.
He said that although the system was tested to ensure its reliability and performance, there are still some more additions to raise its efficiency.
“Improvement areas that I want to focus on are adding GPS module that will provide the location coordinates of the bus, which can be send through GSM modal to school administration, adding more PIR sensors to establish a wider detection area and increase system reliability, and adding a camera to the system that could send a live picture of any moving body inside the vehicle to the driver or school administration,” he said.