Spanish researchers have developed and tested a new alert system to warn bus drivers about the presence of pedestrian around bus stops.
The system, designed for use in school and city buses, consists of multiple cameras placed on key spots of the bus, allowing the driver to monitor the space around the vehicle including the blind spots of the rear mirrors.
The input from the cameras is displayed on a large screen next to the steering wheel. In order not to distract the driver from his primary task – driving – the system uses smart algorithms capable of detecting people in the images obtained by the cameras and triggering an alert in case of a potentially dangerous situation.
“Our unit automatically processes the images taken by the cameras and warns the driver even if he is not looking at the screen,” said Leopoldo Armesto, a researcher at the Institute of Design and Manufacturing of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV).
The researchers believe the new system could be especially useful to give drivers better control over the situation at bus stops when they are about to pull out of the stop. Especially when children passengers are involved, the situation could be rather confusing and possibly dangerous.
“The system, at first does not disable driving but when it detects a risk, it warns the driver, slightly affecting the accelerator or the wheel. If the driver persists, it can turn on an emergency lock,” Armesto explained.
The UPV researchers developed the system together with C-Robots and tested it mounted on urban buses of Spanish transport company Castrosua S.A.
Various features of the system were tested in a controlled environment, verifying the system’s ability to brake upon detecting a person.
In order to validate the software processing ability, the researchers created a big bank of images taken from different places in the city of Valencia where there is a significant pedestrian traffic.
“We used a total of 12,000 samples of people seen from a vertical position, the same view that the bus cameras have,” said Armesto. “This big image bank is what allows the system to identify and detect the presence of a person in front of the bus, warn the driver and, if necessary, take direct action on the vehicle.”
The system has been developed as part of the project SAFEBUS, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, through the program INNPACTO 2011, and by the European Union, through ERD Funds.