High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Systems
Our design idea solves the problems of cheating in High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) carpool lanes. HOV is a traffic management strategy experiencing a large, planned expansion. HOVs are used globally to reduce traffic congestion and promote public transportation use for encouraging ride-sharing. Other benefits include conserving fuel, lessen emission of air pollutants, reduce road accidents, and save time lost on the roads as passengers can work while travelling. In the US, HOV lanes are mostly located on the inside (left) lane or buffer zones, identified by signs along the freeway with diamond symbols painted on the pavement. Users include motorcycles, mass transit, and vehicles with two or more (2+) occupants. An "occupant" is defined as any person who occupies a safety restraint device, i.e., seat belt, including infants but excluding animals.
The problem is how to enforce HOV lanes and prevent cheating. Highway patrol? There is an access problem in monitoring vehicles on the inside (left) lane or buffer zones. In California, an HOV lane violation fine is a minimum $490, and may be higher for repeat offenders. Upon stopping a car there is a risk of being shot. An emerging solution will be the automatic counting of the number of passengers, yet far from cheat-proof. An optical camera system will fail to differentiate a dummy looking like a person with a hat obscuring the face. Smartphone Bluetooth ID can be overcome with multiple phones. An infant, qualified as a passenger, may not be visible to the camera. A dog may be strapped. There is an abundance of stories of ways to cheat and all present systems share enforcement problems and award those who cheat the system. Attempts to catch cheaters include surveillance cameras, infrared or laser technology, AI, photographing the occupants in the car, or count the number of smartphone signals in a vehicle.
The ATLAS SMARTag™ solution (Patent Pending)
Our idea is novel and patent pending, low-cost solution to prevent cheaters. A seat-belt SMARTag™ is clipped onto passenger’s seat belt and around an infant’s safety seat. It prevents cheating by placing more than one tag on the seat belt. Why? Because the continuous, real-time vital sign signature of a person is unique and duplicate means cheating. The following figure is the ATLAS SMARTag™ on a passenger travelling in a moving car.
Automate passenger counting without risking police enforcement personnel. Prevent or reduce traffic congestion and accidents. Improve traffic flow. Save travelling time and transportation cost. Help facilitate cleaner air. Identify an infant left in the vehicle. Identify an attempt to count an animal.
In the U.S. alone there are hundreds of such lanes and projection are several folds. Globally there are over 200 million potential users, and tag manufacturing cost will be under $20 in volume production.
Our product can be manufactured by any SMT production company anywhere.