New app to prevent heavy equipment accidents

By Sarah Ann McCay13 December 2013

A researcher at the University of Missouri has finished an app to prevent heavy equipment accidents and is now looking for an industry partner to distribute it.

Each year more than 400 people die from heavy equipment and agricultural tractor rollover accidents, according to the Bureau of Labour statistics. The new VRPETERS (Vehicle Rollover Prevention Education Training Emergency Reporting System) is designed to summons site assistance immediately to help prevent death.

The app, designed by A. Bulent Koc, assistant professor of Agricultural Systems Management at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and research assistant Bo Liu, is downloaded to a Smartphone or tablet.

The app then uses the sensors and GPS capability built into these mobile devices to detect a rollover, and sends an automatic emergency e-mail and phone message with accident location coordinates.

To minimize the number of false alarms, the VRPETERS-equipped Smartphone is attached to the tractor, rather than left in a pocket. The app is designed to calculate the stability characteristics of the vehicle, and can provide a warning to the driver as the vehicle’s rollover point approaches.

Another version of the app consists of hardware installed onto the machine that detects upsets and sends out an emergency message.

Koc said that many rollover accidents usually occur some distance from a road or residence, which means an accident can go undetected for hours. Having the emergency alert go out automatically is important if the operator is unconscious or pinned under the vehicle and can’t reach a cell phone.

The app can be used with farm equipment, construction and mining vehicles, trucks, snowmobiles, military vehicles, riding lawnmowers and ATVs.

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