Back of the truck
We, drivers, know how inconvenient and dangerous overtaking big trucks can be. Overtaking itself is a very dangerous manoeuvre but its risk increases when the vehicle in front of us does not allow us to see what is coming or what it has in front of it. What we seek is to increase safety of vehicles in roads by increasing the amount of information drivers receive from their environment, this way improving their user experience.
What it does
Our device has some infrared sensors placed in the front part of trucks and other big vehicles that get activated when there is a car in the road in front of the truck (same / opposite direction). Automatically, a big sign saying that the driver behind should not overtake is illuminated. When the sensors do not detect any car, the sign's LEDs are off. Since the sign is made of glass, it cannot be seen by the car behind the truck when not necessary.
How we built it
We built a prototype of a truck and installed the infrared sensors that would tell us if a car is coming from the opposite direction or if there is a car immediately in front of the truck. Then we coded a program with arduino that would activate the sign light when the sensor is activated by the presence of the car. We laser engraved the sign and added the LEDs.
Challenges we ran into
We did not have materials to make the big sign so we had to ask for some favours to other teams. Also, we had to think about the psychology and the legality of displaying a sign and choose between telling the driver that he/she shouldn't overtake or could overtake. If you recommend a driver to overtake (like with a green sign) and there is a failure in the system, then it could be our fault if an accident happens. But if what you display is a recommendation of not overtaking (like our project), then you are being protective, and you avoid risks.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that we finished this project on time, although it was not our initial project and we added more features on the way.
What we learned
We learned that sometimes you think you are engraving plexiglas when you are actually engraving something more or less toxic. But still we survived. We also learned how to put a bunch of infrared sensors and make them work.
What's next for Safe truck-overtaking sign
The next thing would be doing some research regarding road safety rules, safety distance, and light regulation so that we can choose better materials that allow even more safety. Also, it would be really cool to do some studies to check if drivers understand the sign without having to learn anything new, and if it is actually effective.