BOCA BEARINGS 2014 INNOVATION COMPETITION

Smart Cones

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Presented By:
Jacob Merz
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ABOUT THIS PROJECT


Tell us briefly about your project. Is it a work of art or does it serve another function?

This project is robotic traffic cones. Currently when setting up a traffic control zone it takes workers up to several hours just to set up all the signs, barriers and other various traffic control devices. This is costly, inefficient, and dangerous for the workers involved. This meaning it is the perfect environment for a robotics application. The SMART Cones is the first installment in trying to automatize the traffic control process. The concept is fairly simple. Small, stackable, robotic bases not too much unlike small RC cars, are controlled via an android device, and simply told where to go. Then between a combination of internal measurements, and GPS telemetry the cones set themselves up in the exact locations the user dictates. This eliminates the cost of hiring someone to set up the traffic cones, reduces the time to set up a zone, and significantly lowers the potential dangers to work crews. This concept will also allow rescue crews (such as police, ambulance, fire, etc.) to be able to set up a barrier where needed in little to no time, and without the need of extra personnel. Imagine an accident, two cars collide on a 2 lane highway. There is wreckage all over the place and you are a first responder. Currently you can't just go and help the people involved in the accident because there is traffic all around, and to do so would put yourself at serious risk. As such you need to wait for additional crews to get there to help direct traffic so that you and other EMS personnel can get in to help the victims. However with this technology, you simply have to whip out your smartphone, draw a few lines, and then you can dive right in and start helping the victims. I came up with this concept when watching traffic control crews set up cones. Then during the FRC Portland Regional I met Herbert Jenkins, a traffic control specialist. We agreed to make this a reality, and with a mere $200 we made our first prototype.

When did you start working on this project and how long did it take you to complete?

I met Herbert Jenkins in February of 2012, we discussed terms of working on the project and then in June of 2012 we had started work on the proof of concept/ prototyping. In August the positioning algorithm was perfected and I am currently in the process of designing the deploying mechanism to deploy many of these at once, and after that I am going to complete communications. I plan to be ready for official testing by the end of 2013.

What was your goal in building this project?

The goal was to reduce fatalities and injuries during any sort of roadside work. Whether it be road crews working on the road, electricians working on power lines, or emergency personnel cleaning up accidents on the road. Whatever it is, this project makes it safer, easier, and more efficient.

Does your project help to solve a problem? If so what problem?

Yes, it makes anything involving traffic cones easier, safer, and more efficient.

What makes your idea unique?

This idea is unique because it automatizes dangerous jobs in a profession where workers are payed an ungodly amount of money due to the dangers associated. This saves money by allowing machines to do better, faster jobs. Along with that do you see robotic traffic cones anywhere?

In what capacity are you using bearings and what type of bearings?

I am using bearings in the tensioners within the tank treads. They are small standard sealed ball bearing with plastic wheels on the outside.

What is the most important thing you want people to know about your project?

The most important part of this project is that it will save money for those in charge of work zones. There is no longer the need to pay someone to be around all day to set up, and take down cones. You no longer need additional EMS personnel to arrive on a scene to direct traffic. That this project has the opportunity to save lives, prevent crippling handicaps to those working next to roads, and make the lives easier of those in charge of work zones.

How will you use the $5,000 prize?

I will use the $10,000 prize to finish up development($1286) and use the rest to start development and licensing.

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