Team receives $1.2 million NSF grant to develop smart e-scooters

Researchers building a tracking system to keep riders safe on the road

A team of College of Science and Engineering researchers were awarded a $1.2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Cyber Physical Systems grant to develop a smart tracking system for electric scooters.

The project is led by mechanical engineering professor Rajesh Rajamani, with computer science assistant professor Ju Sun and Nichole Morris, director of CSE’s Human Factors Interdisciplinary Research in Safety and Transportation (HumanFIRST) lab, as co-project investigators. 

The smart system will leverage inexpensive sensors, active sensing-based estimation algorithms, and deep learning robust image processing to track positions of nearby vehicles on the road. If the system senses the danger of a potential collision with a vehicle, the scooter will emit an audio-visual warning to alert drivers to the presence of the scooter. It will also monitor the rider’s behavior, provide real-time feedback to improve compliance with traffic signals and sidewalk rules, and document the information as a part of the rider’s safety record. 

Rajamani said that if successful, their research could have even broader applications in ensuring safety in the transportation industry. 

"The research conducted in this project will lead to development of a platform technology that has applications beyond the scooter to other transportation systems including bicycles, motorcycles, low-cost vehicles in developing countries and also to other autonomous platforms such as indoor robots,” said Rajamani, who is the Benjamin Y.H. Liu / TSI Applied Technology Chair in the mechanical engineering department.

Rajamani will lead the research on algorithms for tracking the trajectories of nearby vehicles, Sun will focus on the computer vision aspect, and Morris will lead human subject studies to evaluate the effectiveness of the smart technology. 

For more information on the project, visit the NSF website.