After inventing ways to save lives, three from SASD win at NY International Auto Show

Industrial Design majors’ traffic-safety devices capture three out of five prizes at premier auto industry event


Industrial design students from the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD) won three out of five top prizes at the New York International Auto Show on April 13, 2017 for devices they invented to minimize the risk of vehicle accidents that put passengers and pedestrians in peril.

Industrial Design majors Kristopher Fuji, Diana Inga, and David Jurado won Second, Third and Fourth Place prizes at the “Designs for Safety Competition,” which is held annually at the auto show at the Javits Center and draws more than 1 million viewers.

“This is a premier event for the automotive industry. It’s not just about next-generation cars, it’s about next-generation talent, so it’s great that SASD students have been recognized for their ability to identify and propose innovative solutions to keep people safe,” said SASD Industrial Design Chairman Richard Yelle.

Since 2011, SASD students at the University of Bridgeport have won 15 awards at the NY International Auto Show “Design for Safety Competition,” including three Grand Prizes.

About the SASD winners at the 2017 NY International Auto Show:

Kristopher Fujii, from Bellport, NY, won the $2500 Second Place prize for “Bus Buddy,” a crossing guard drone that keeps children safe as they board or get off a school bus.

Last year, more than 74,400 incidents of illegal passing of school buses were recorded, and on average, eight children are killed a year by drivers who ignore school bus stop signs.

Fujii’s Bus Buddy drone protects students by monitoring traffic around a stopped school bus. Equipped with a motion sensor, the drone senses oncoming traffic. Its LCD screen then alerts children when it’s safe to cross by changing from a red distressed face to a green smiley face when traffic is stopped. With a pre-programmed pattern, the Bus Buddy can fly out from its dock on top of the school bus, fly down into traffic’s view, and work like a stop light to stop traffic and signal the children for a safe cross.

After assisting students to safety, the Bus Buddy can return to its charging dock on top of the school bus where inductive charging can be utilized to keep the drone charged without any wires.

Diana Inga’s “Black Ice Drone” captured the $1250 Third Place prize by locating often invisible black ice on roadways and melting it with eco-friendly salt water solutions.

More than 800 people die each year in the U.S in vehicle crashes caused by snow, sleet, and freezing rain. In the case of snow, it can be predicted and seen on the roads, but that’s not the case for black ice.  Every year it causes hundreds of accidents for unsuspecting drivers,” said Inga, who is from Peekskill, NY. “We see drones being used in the military and even for package delivery systems.  So why not use them to make highways safer?”

Using GPS signals, the Black Ice Drone can be programed to oversee any given route within three-mile distance, particularly areas that are more prone to black ice, such as bridges. Using an infrared temperature senor that detects if there is even a 1 degree change in the road temperature in less than 0.1 seconds.

After Black Ice Drone has monitored its designated route, it returns to a solar powered recharge station to charge its battery and refill on salt solution. The recharge station would be placed on the back of freeway signs and the height makes it convenient for drones to reach as well as intimidate thieves.  A control box at the base of the post allows for storage and refill of salt solution.

David Jurado won the $1250 Fourth Place award for “Pneumatic Rumble,” a device meant to curtail speeding, a major contributing factor to collisions and fatal crashes.

Located in strategic points of a highway where drivers tend to speed and at high-risk collision zones, the system monitors drivers’ speeds by vehicle type. Once a speeding driver is identified, the device’s camera will send specifications about its location and speed. From there, data will be used to retract nitrogen from specific pneumatic pads, momentarily creating a rumble to catch the driver’s attention about his or her speeding infraction.

Once the driver reduces speed the ignitor will inflate back the “Pneumatic pads,” leveling it with the road in a matter of milliseconds (like an airbag system).

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,