I-­Corps: Mobile Life Guard

The increased use of in-vehicle entertainment and smart phones (texting, talking, music, videos) increases the level of distraction of drivers and introduce new challenges for safety on the road. But, it is believed that mobile phones can also help improve road safety by sensing, sharing, and providing feedback to fellow drivers. Three first order, safety factors contribute to safety on the road: the driver, the vehicle, and the road. Mobile Life Guard, patent pending, includes all these categories in a comprehensive product. The proposed product involves the interaction between a mobile smartphone and its sensors, and an OBD-II device to assess current driver behavior and vehicle data. The Mobile Life Guard (MLG) system enables a suite of capabilities for safe information transfer on driver, vehicle, environment and traffic conditions in a vehicle-to-operator and vehicle-to-vehicle mode using minimum information and capabilities available on smartphones; initially the team plans to use the Android operating system in the phone and IBDII port in the vehicle. Currently the team has developed several multi-dimensional safety scores quantifying driving behavior and road conditions. The proposed product seeks to enable some of these applications with softer timeliness requirements (e.g., 'slow traffic ahead' or 'stranded vehicle ahead' warnings) through smartphones -- without the need to deploy in-vehicle infrastructure. As consumers drive around, the phone can sense and share the driving profile, vehicle functions, and infrastructure conditions (e.g., road, weather) with nearby drivers. In particular, previous research resulted on techniques on how the road conditions and hazards can be communicated by the cell phone to the neighboring drivers (e.g., tell the driver behind that slowing down now because of a speed bump). Based on the deployment of various smartphone applications, while it is relatively easy to have users download an application, it is difficult to sustain the interest in running the application over a long period of time and share the data. A primary goal of the proposed I-Corps project is to identify the subsets of the capabilities that initially have the highest potential for market development and penetration. Initial target customer groups are elderly and teenage drivers. I-Corps team plans to receive feedback directly with: i) transportation industry partners, ii) representatives from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and iii) first-tier system suppliers that provide systems for vehicle manufacturers.

The introduction of new in-vehicle audio and visual technologies (open APIs), access to vehicle information through OBDII and multiple sensors in smart phones creates sea-level opportunities for improving the safety on the road. The team plans to use a test bed of vehicles and mobile phones to effectively and accurately measure driver behavior and identify possible improvements. In summary, the intellectual merit components are:

  1. Real-time driver state modeling using mobile phones and OBDII, ii) Real-time unambiguous notifications and alerts to the neighboring vehicles
  2. Real-time guidance to the driver for optimal fuel consumption, energy-efficient localization, and speed tracking
  3. Proactively predicting information about vehicle-condition, road-condition, hazards and construction
  4. Performance analysis and new metrics for driver-in-the-loop.

To achieve the above objectives, the proposed product calls for interdisciplinary work among computer science, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, neuroscience and communication studies.

Funded By:

Start Date: 
Saturday, October 1, 2011
End Date: 
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Total Amount (all institutions combined): 
Individual Amounts: 
$50,000.00 (UNT)
Principal Investigators: 
Ram Dantu - Professor
Award Numbers: 
1158625 (UNT)

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