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Reducing Roadside Construction Accidents

Volvo CE and the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon collaborated to develop a system that uses RFID to save workers' lives.
By Mark Roberti
Oct 23, 2015

Roughly 1,000 U.S. workers die each year from accidents at roadside construction sites, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Volvo Construction Equipment (CE), a division of the Volvo Group, and researchers at the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University have teamed up to develop a novel system called SiteAware that could greatly reduce that number.

SiteAware combines video cameras, LIDAR (a remote light-and-radar sensing technology that measures how far an object is by bouncing a laser off it and analyzing the light reflected back) and radio frequency identification to identify ground workers. The system can detect obstacles, including workers, machinery and traffic. The system then integrates and aggregates the data and transfers it to a screen on a machine operator's dashboard. It provides visual and auditory cues to operators and ground workers, who may otherwise be unaware that another worker is in their vicinity and there is danger of a collision or other incident.

The Integrated Innovation Institute is a joint initiative of the Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering, College of Fine Arts and Tepper School of Business. The aim is to bring engineering, design and business students together to learn a process for innovating and to apply it to real-world challenges, often via corporate-sponsored projects. Volvo CE heard about the program, was intrigued and decided to sponsor a project.

Fares Beainy, a research engineer in emerging technology at Volvo CE, visited the students and explained that Volvo has three core values: safety, quality and environmental care. He asked the students to think about what the work environment of a construction machine operator would be like in 10 years, and let the students come up with the project.

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