At a juncture when cops are cracking down on drunk driving, a final year Masters in Engineering mechatronics student of Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) has modified a bike and fitted it with sensors that can tell if the rider is drunk, not wearing a helmet or speaking over the phone.

Increasing number of accidents due to negligent driving prompted him to come up with the innovation, says P. Jai Rajesh. “It took me six months to complete the project but the effort paid off,” said Rajesh.

He spent Rs. 6,000 on sensors. “I embedded the sensors in the bike and helmet. I also made a special cellphone holder that is attached to the top of the bike's petrol tank. If the cellphone is taken away from the stand, the bike will automatically switch off,” he said.

A sensor is also fixed to the jaw area of the helmet. “This is to detect if the rider is drunk. Even if the rider removes the helmet, the sensor will signal the bike to stop. This will save the life of the rider and others on the road. The sensors must be installed during the manufacturing of the bike and the helmet, too, should be sold along with the vehicle,” said Rajesh.

According to him, rules and punitive measures against drunken riding, helmetless travel and speaking over the phone while driving, won't change the mindset of people. “It is better to do something that will prevent motorists from riding the bike if they do not follow the norms,” he said.

Rajesh's bike was on display at the Mechatronics department's stall set up as part of Technology Day celebrations at Anna University. Another innovation based on sensors was a system for alerting railway mazdoors who work on the tracks in remote villages. Two final-year M.E. mechatronics students, S. Venkatesh and M. Kishore Abishek, of MIT, were behind this invention.

“In the villages, railway staff works on parallel tracks some distance away from the station. They sometimes fail to notice the train and get run over,” said Kishore. To alert the workers, a radio frequency transmitter sensor will be fitted at the railways station. “If there is any movement lasting for over four seconds, it will send signals to a radio frequency receiver provided to the workers. It will then emit a beep to alert the workers,” said Kishore.

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Vivek NarayananJune 28, 2012