ADAMS TWP. – Clinton-Massie High School students developed and programmed robots to simulate collision avoidance systems that are becoming more common today on cars, trucks and other vehicles.
The project-base-learning was part of their Computer Programming and Robotics course instructed by computer technology teacher Dann Sternsher.
Looking toward real-world, authentic application of their computer programming skills, this project served several purposes.
“We traditionally think of computer programming as it relates to laptop computers, video games, or apps on a smartphone; but students are learning how much digital, programmed technology permeates our everyday lives,” explained Sternsher.
“Everything from our washing machines, furnaces, and manufacturing facilities to our farm tractors and vehicles we drive every day are dependent upon good design that includes programming and coding that not only automates things, it can help save lives and reduce injuries.”
Using the design process, students began by researching common types of vehicle crashes. They then investigated past and current collision avoidance systems and technology used in vehicles.
Many students were surprised to learn that over 50 years ago Cadillac’s 1959 Cyclone prototype car had radar technology integrated into its design to help drivers avoid collisions.
They also determined that inattentive drivers failing to maintain an appropriate speed and distance from other vehicles while driving often contributed to accidents on roadways.
To develop, test, and simulate a collision avoidance system for vehicles, students created programs for small robots that were equipped with various input and output devices such as ultrasonic sensors, infrared sensors, sound, and programmable LED lights.
In addition to creating a program that adjusted the robotic “vehicle’s” speed and braking, students also had to create appropriate audible and visual indicators that would alert drivers.
To test their collision avoidance programs and system, students developed and programmed secondary robots to act as “erratic drivers” that randomly changed speed or stopped unexpectedly. They had their collision avoidance system robots follow the erratic driver robots to test their designs and solutions.
“This project was not only practical and beneficial for students interested in programming or engineering,” reflected senior Max Carnevale, “but it was fun and encouraged a lot of team-building.”
Sternsher expressed his appreciation for the Clinton-Massie Local Schools Foundation which provided funds through a grant to help purchase the robot kits and supplies.
The Clinton-Massie Local Schools Foundation is a non-profit group that raises and provides funding to improve and enhance educational opportunities and learning at Clinton-Massie.