The Project

Growth economies continue to be more reliant on roadways than ever before. Over 30,000 miles of road are added yearly to the already enormous road system that exists in the United States. As roads segment habitats, animals have no option but to walk across them for food, water and companionship. In the process they end up becoming roadkill. These animal deaths have a direct impact on the biodiversity and dynamics of an ecosystem and roadkill poses a threat to many species that are fighting extinction. Vehicles colliding with animals results in human fatalities, life changing injuries and extensive property damage. Current methods of handling roadkill are primarily passive and do not leverage the animal's natural instincts. My invention - Ora, presents an alternative approach to avoid roadkill by involving the animal, warning them of an oncoming vehicle and triggers their escape instincts. Making the animal an integral part of the solution, augmenting their sensory perception with science and technology and utilizing their heightened reflexes and survival instincts provides a better chance at mitigating the problem of roadkill. Ora has been tested for its effectiveness in detecting oncoming vehicles and the results show that Ora is able to provide animals a warning of an oncoming vehicle, consistently, reliably and in a wide range of testing conditions, providing them valuable time to get out of harm’s way. The chasm between a prototype solution hooked up using Arduino and some off the shelf sensors and a fully functional, hardened, deployment ready device is huge. There are so many factors that I learnt along the way from building a printed circuit board to minimize connections and wires, to 3D design and modeling of the enclosure, how to protect Ora from the elements (including rain and harsh sun) and finally, building for self sufficiency with respect to power using solar energy and rechargeable batteries. The hardest part was to develop all these different skills in a short span of time in order to achieve my end goal. In some cases like electronics and circuit board design, I reached out to experts in the fields to point me in the right direction, while in other cases like 3D printing I spent a lot of time between YouTube sessions and Fusion 360 software building everything from keychains to Christmas ornaments to gain proficiency. I would not necessarily call all of these learnings difficult but more skill development that is going to help me in future work as well. The most frustrating part though was the design, manufacture and test cycle of the PCB I designed. The cycle time for sending a PCB for printing and receiving it back was the order of weeks and this meant it was hard to make meaningful progress during that time. I used that time to prepare my presentations and run tests using my prototype devices. As next steps I will be working with UC Davis - Road Ecology Center to test Ora in state highways in regions of high Roadkill. Code Repository: https://github.com/VedantS18/Roadkill_Project.git


About the team

  • United States

Team members

  • Vedant