Save lives in a rollover? There’s an app for that.
Researchers at the University of Missouri have developed an application for smartphones that uses GPS systems to locate farmers who have rolled their tractors.
The app, called VRPETERS (Vehicle Rollover Prevention Education Training Emergency Reporting System), uses sensors and GPS capability built into smartphones that can detect rollovers. Once the app detects a rollover, it sends an automatic emergency e-mail and phone message with the coordinates of the accident location to family or emergency responders.
“The tractor is the main power source for field operations, and tractor rollover accidents have been killing people since the beginning of their use in agricultural production,” said Bulent Koc, assistant professor of agricultural systems management at MU and developer of the app. “More and more farmers are using their smartphones to monitor weather or calculate production inputs while operating machinery. Since they already have their phones with them, installing VRPETERS could help save lives.”
Data from the NIOSH show that one out of every 10 tractor operators will roll a tractor at least once. NIOSH also notes that only half of the 4.7 million tractors on U.S. farms have rollover protection. In order to minimize false alarm rollovers on the app, Koc and his research assistant Bo Liu designed a device that must be attached to the tractor. This device helps calculate the stability characteristics of the tractor and will provide a warning to the driver when the tractor approaches its rollover point.