AutoScan, A Pothole Detection System for City Buses

The 2014 Best ECE Senior Design Project Award

The Best ECE Senior Design Project Award was presented to AutoScan team members Vinny DeGenova, Stuart Minshull, Nandheesh Prasad, Austen Schmidt, and Charlie Vincent.
Senior Lecturer Babak Kia Montazam acted as the team client.

ECE Day

From left to right: Senior Lecturer Babak Kia Montazam, Associate Professor of the Practice Alan Pisano, Vinny DeGenova, Austen Schmidt, Charlie Vincent, Nandheesh Prasad, Stuart Minshull, and ECE Department Chair Professor David Castañón. Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography.

Have you noticed an increase in the number of potholes in City of Boston streets? Have you heard news reports on the surge in road damage throughout New England? You are not alone. Secretary of The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Richard A. Davey affirmed the increase in road damage, and linked it to the harsh winter.

Roads in the northeast endure harsh winters, and as result they are commonly marked with potholes. The damage starts with a small crack on the side of the road. The damage grows when water seeps down into the crack, and then shifts phase, either freezing and becoming ice or evaporating. The phase change alters the size of the water and the amount of pressure on the crack. Slowly, the crack grows underneath the road, making the pavement more susceptible to damage from the weight of traffic.

ECE Day

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography.

A team of five seniors in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering proposed a solution to this climatic social issue, in a system called “AutoScan.” AutoScan is a pothole detection system that is mounted to a city bus to find potholes, communicate the location of the damage, and build a database to show the location and repair-status of all damage.

Aside from repairing potholes, AutoScan provides answers to concerned drivers and the state officials responsible to fix the roads. The hardware is inexpensive to produce, therefore lessening the taxpayer’s burden; works in real time, to alert operators of all near-by danger; and archives the number of pothole occurrences on each road, to indicate how susceptible each road is.

Team members, Vinny DeGenova, Stuart Minshull, Nandheesh Prasad, Austen Schmidt, and Charlie Vincent, worked with Senior Lecturer Babak Kia Montazam to produce AutoScan as their Senior Design Capstone Project. Their year-long efforts were rewarded at ECE Day, when the team was announced as the 2014 Best ECE Senior Design Project Award winners.

ECE Day

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography.

AutoScan team members received two additional honors outside of Boston University. The ECE seniors won first prize in the GizmoSphere Developers’ Contest. Scott Hoot, president of GizmoSphere, explained that the system won because the creators’ open source problem-solving approach and the system’s projected low production cost.

More recently, the team was nominated to attend the 2014 Capstone Design Conference in Columbus, Ohio. The annual conference aims to improve designed-based capstone courses by bringing faculty, administrators, industry representatives, and students together. Student attendees are nominated based on their capstone design project submission.

 

The AutoScan Video Entry for the GizmoSphere Competition

 

By Gabriella McNevin