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Title:
RADIO AUDIBLE EMERGENCY VEHICLE NOTIFICATION SYSTEM AND METHOD OF USING SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2010/065914
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A vehicle notification system and method of using the system are disclosed. The system includes a transmitter on a first vehicle (e.g., an emergency vehicle) and a receiver on a second vehicle (e.g., a passenger vehicle). When a signal is transmitted from the first vehicle and received by the second vehicle, a stereo on the second vehicle is muted and a pre-recorded message is played over the stereo of the second vehicle.

Inventors:
FARIAS BRETT A (US)
MIRALDI MATTHEW (US)
BAUER RON (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2009/066852
Publication Date:
June 10, 2010
Filing Date:
December 04, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
WEYLAND YUTANI ENGINEERING INC (US)
FARIAS BRETT A (US)
MIRALDI MATTHEW (US)
BAUER RON (US)
International Classes:
G08G1/09; H04B7/26
Foreign References:
US20040036627A12004-02-26
US20080106435A12008-05-08
US20020102961A12002-08-01
US20070132608A12007-06-14
US20060227008A12006-10-12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PILLOTE, Cynthia, L. (One Arizona Center400 East Van Buren Stree, Phoenix AZ, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

We claim

1 A vehicle notification system compiising a transmitter in a first vehicle, and a receiver component m a second vehicle, the receiver component coupled to a steieo system comprising a stereo and speakers m the second vehicle, the receiver component comprising a receiver to receive a transmission signal from the transmitter and an interrupt and relay circuit coupled to the receiver and the stereo system, wherein, upon leceiving a signal from the transmitter, the receiver component interrupts or turns on the stereo system

2 The vehicle notification system of claim 1 , wherein the receiver component comprises a light to indicate when the receiver component is activated

3 The vehicle notification system of claim 1 , wherein the receiver component comprises a voltage regulator coupled between the receiver and the interrupt and relay circuit

4 The vehicle notification system of claim 3, wherein the receiver component comprises a microcontroller coupled to the receiver and the voltage regulator

5 The vehicle notification system of claim 1 , wherein the receiver component comprises an MP3 decoder, and wherein when the receiver receives a signal from the transmitter, the receiver component causes a prerecorded message to be decoded on the MP3 decoder and to be played on the speakers

6 The vehicle notification system of claim 5, wherein the receiver component comprises an amplifier coupled between the MP3 decoder and the interrupt and relay circuit

7 The vehicle notification system of claim 1, wherein the interrupt and relay circuit comprises a dual-pole-dual-throw relay 8 The vehicle notification system of claim 1 , wherein the transmitter comprises a mobile hght-of-sight transmitter operating at a frequency between 2 2 GHz and 2 29 GHz

9 The vehicle notification system of claim 1, wherein the first vehicle comprises a plurality of transmitters

10 The vehicle notification system of claim 1 , wherein the transmitter rotates

11 A method of notifying a second vehicle that a first vehicle is approaching, the method comprising the steps of transmitting a signal from the first vehicle, receiving the signal in a second vehicle, sending a control signal to an interrupt and relay circuit, and sending an interrupt signal from the interrupt and relay circuit to a stereo, wherein the interrupt signal causes the stereo to turn on or interrupts sound playing on the stereo

12 The method of notifying a second vehicle that a first vehicle is approaching of claim 11 , wherein the transmitting step comprises transmitting a mobile line-of-sight broadcast

13 The method of notifying a second vehicle that a first vehicle is approaching of claim 11, further comprising the step of playing instructions over the speakers

14 The method of notifying a second vehicle that a first vehicle is approaching of claim 11 , further comprising the step of providing a light to indicate the signal has been received in the second vehicle

15 The method of notifying a second vehicle that a first vehicle is approaching of claim 11, further comprising the step of rotating a transmitter on the first vehicle

16 A receiver component for receiving a transmitted signal from a transmitter of a first vehicle, the receiver component comprising a receiver to receive a transmission signal from the transmitter and to filter a transmitted signal to obtain an identifier signal; an interrupt and relay circuit coupled to the receiver and a stereo system, wherein, the interrupt and relay circuit is configured to interrupt or turn on a stereo; and memory for storing a prerecorded message to provide instructions corresponding to the identifier signal to respond to the first vehicle.

17. The receiver component for receiving a transmitted signal from a transmitter of a first vehicle of claim 16, further comprising a light to indicate when the receiver component is activated.

18. The receiver component for receiving a transmitted signal from a transmitter of a first vehicle of claim 16, further comprising a voltage regulator coupled between the receiver and the interrupt and relay circuit.

19. The receiver component for receiving a transmitted signal from a transmitter of a first vehicle of claim 18, further comprising a microcontroller coupled to the receiver and the voltage regulator.

20. The receiver component for receiving a transmitted signal from a transmitter of a first vehicle of claim 19, further comprising an MP3 decoder coupled to the microcontroller.

21. The receiver component for receiving a transmitted signal from a transmitter of a first vehicle of claim 20, further comprising an amplifier coupled between the MP3 and the interrupt and relay circuit.

22. The receiver component for receiving a transmitted signal from a transmitter of a first vehicle of claim 16, wherein the interrupt circuit comprises a dual-pole-dual-throw relay.

Description:
RADIO AUDIBLE EMERGENCY VEHICLE NOTIFICATION SYSTEM AND

METHOD OF USING SAME

FIELD OF INVENTION The present invention generally relates to devices and systems for emergency vehicle notification and to methods of using the devices and systems More particularly, the invention relates to a system, which includes a transmitter on an emergency vehicle and a receiver on a second vehicle, to warn passengers in the second vehicle of an oncoming emergency vehicle, to components of the system, and to methods of using the system and components

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Emergency personnel, such as first responders, fire fighters, police officers, and the like provide important services in society, such as providing care in medical emergencies, providing assistance at scenes of accidents, putting out hazardous fires, rescuing people in need, etc Often, it is desirable to provide such services as quickly as possible, because even short delays in providing such services may lead to additional destruction of property, additional bodily harm, and/or be the difference between life and death

Emergency or first responder vehicles often share a road with other vehicles on the load, and these other vehicles often cause delay in reaching a target for the emergency vehicle The emergency vehicles are often equipped with sirens or other audible devices to alert other drivers to move out of the way of the emergency vehicle Unfortunately, the iange of the audible signal is limited by the initial transmission volume, which is limited by the tolerance of a human ear And, many passenger vehicles are often designed to mitigate external noise, thus further decreasing the apparent volume of the emergency signal to passengeis within such vehicles Furthermore, if a driver of another vehicle is distracted by, for example, loud music playing on the radio, the siren or audible device may be ineffective In addition, whether or not other drivers are distracted, the audible signal from the emergency vehicle may cause confusion with the other drivers regarding which action should be taken

Various systems have been developed to attempt to overcome these shortcomings of traditional alert systems For example, traffic signal preemption devices have been developed to manipulate traffic lights to provide a right of way for the emergency vehicles Such a system may include an infrared strobe to signal an upcoming traffic light to turn red to stop conflicting traffic. Although such systems may provide some advantage, the systems only have effect around traffic lights, and in particular, around traffic lights equipped with the requisite system. Another system for alerting commuter vehicle passengers is disclosed in United

States Patent No. 7,271,736, entitled EMERGENCY VEHICLE ALERT SYSTEM. The disclosed system includes an alert transceiver in commuter vehicles to detect line-of-site (LOS) alert signals from another vehicle, such as an emergency vehicle. Upon detecting the LOS alert signal, the alert transceiver can relay the alert signals to other alert transceivers in commuter vehicles within a warning zone that are outside of the LOS zone, thereby creating a mobile tracking network (MTN). The alert signals can include any relevant information, such as information regarding a hazard that includes the type of hazard (emergency vehicle, fire, ambulance, etc.), the time stamped location, direction of travel, speed and planned route for the emergency vehicle; and/or the coordinates of warning zone as determined by alert transceivers.

United States Patent No. 7,245,232, entitled EMERGENCY VEHICLE ALERT SYSTEM discloses an apparatus for detection of selected sound frequency signals emitted by warning devices of vehicles. A sensor may sense a selected sound frequency signal spectrum and may be in communication with multiple operational amplifiers. The operational amplifiers may be biased to detect a warning device sound source within 50 feet and within 1,500 feet of the sensor. The detection of a warning device sound source may be communicated to a warning indicator to activate the warning indicator.

United States Patent No. 7,061,402, entitled EMERGENCY VEHICLE WARNING SYSTEM discloses an emergency vehicle warning system including a transmitter unit positioned within an emergency vehicle, and a receiver unit positioned within a passenger vehicle, wherein upon receipt of a radio frequency activation signal from the transmitter unit, an electronic chime within the receiver unit emits an audible alert, and thereby warns the driver of the passenger vehicle of the approaching emergency vehicle. The receiver unit also displays the relative position of the emergency vehicle upon a display panel. The receiver unit is additionally activated by sound waves associated with the siren of the emergency vehicle. The warning system alerts the driver to the approaching emergency vehicle before hearing the siren of the emergency vehicle, and thereby provides enough time for the driver of the passenger vehicle to safely pull over to the side of the road in order to allow the emergency vehicle to pass.

United States Patent No. 6,958,707, entitled EMERGENCY VEHICLE ALERT SYSTEM discloses an apparatus and method for an emergency vehicle alert system that transmits signals from one or more emergency vehicles to nearby commuter vehicles. When an initiation switch in the emergency vehicle is activated, a transmitter broadcasts a unique identifier for the vehicle. Information regarding other characteristics such as position, speed, route, and direction of travel can also be transmitted to provide alert information to commuter vehicles in the vicinity of the emergency vehicles. The information is presented to occupants of the commuter vehicle and can include audio and visual displays such as lights, voice warnings, moving map displays with symbols representing the vehicles' positions relative to one another, and a textual display providing identification and distance information.

Although the systems described above address various drawbacks of siren/light-only devices, the systems do not provide assistance to other drivers that may have their radios on too loud, the systems may not integrate well with conventional car stereo systems, and the systems may not provide real-time instructions to drivers of passenger vehicles. Accordingly, an improved system, device, and method for alerting drivers of emergency vehicle movement are desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an improved emergency vehicle notification system and method to alert other drivers to the movement of an emergency vehicle and to provide instructions to the other drivers. The system, device, and method of the present invention may be used to reduce response time of emergency vehicles, reduce transit time of the vehicles, reduce a number of accidents between emergency vehicles and other vehicles, and reduce confusion of other drivers in the presence of emergency vehicles.

The ways in which the present invention addresses various drawbacks of now-known emergency vehicle alert systems and methods are discussed in greater detail below. However, in general, the present invention provides a system and devices to transmit information from an emergency vehicle and interrupt and mute sound playing on a speaker within a vehicle and instead play a warning and/or instructions over the speakers. In accordance various embodiments of the present invention, a system includes a transmitter located on an emergency vehicle and a receiver component that includes a receiver and an interrupt circuit located within another vehicle. In accordance with various aspects of these embodiments, the transmitter is a line-of-sight radio transmitter, hi accordance with additional aspects, the receiver component includes a microprocessor, memory, and an audio decoder to detect the type of emergency vehicle and play a prerecorded message in response to a signal from the transmitter.

In accordance with additional embodiments of the invention, the receiver component includes a receiver to receive a signal from the transmitter, an interrupt relay circuit to mute a car stereo, memory to store a prerecorded message, a microprocessor (which may include the memory) to check the transmitted signal, an MP3 decoder, an amplifier. The receiver component also includes suitable input and output connectors, which may include a USB connector.

In accordance with yet additional embodiments of the invention, a method of warning vehicle passengers of an oncoming emergency vehicle includes transmitting a signal from a transmitter on the emergency vehicle to the receiver component in a passenger vehicle, receiving the signal with a receiver within the receiver component, verifying the received signal with a microprocessor, creating a control signal in response to received signal, interrupting (or turning on) a stereo, and playing a pre-recorded message in response to the received signal. In accordance with aspects of these embodiments, the pre-recorded message is amplified before playing the message on the stereo.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the present invention may be derived by referring to the detailed description and claims, considered in connection with the figures, wherein like reference numbers refer to similar elements throughout the figures, and:

Fig. 1 illustrates an emergency vehicle notification system in accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the invention;

Fig. 2 illustrates a vehicle sound system and a receiver component in accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the invention;

Fig. 3 illustrates a receiver component in accordance with various embodiments of the invention; Fig. 4 illustrates a circuit for a transmitter in accordance with various embodiments of the invention; and

Fig. 5 illustrates a circuit for a receiver in accordance with various embodiments of the invention. Elements in the figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions of some of the elements in the figures may be exaggerated relative to other elements to help to improve understanding of embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following description is of exemplary embodiments of the invention, and it is not intended to limit the scope, applicability, or configuration of the invention. Rather, the following description is intended to provide a convenient illustration for implementing various embodiments of the invention. As will become apparent, various changes may be made in the arrangement of and content of the method, system and device described herein, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The present invention relates to emergency vehicle notification systems, devices, and methods. As set forth in more detail below, the system and device in accordance with various exemplary embodiments are designed to warn others of approaching emergency vehicles and to provide instruction to the others on actions to take in response to an approaching emergency vehicle.

Fig. 1 illustrates a system 100 in accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the present invention. System 100 includes a transmitter 102 located within a first vehicle 104 and a receiver component 106 located within a second vehicle 108. In operation, when transmitter 102 emits a signal and receiver component 106 is within range of transmitter 102, receiver component 106 interrupts or turns on a sound system, such as a stereo, within vehicle 108 and broadcasts and/or displays a warning and/or instructions over the sound system and/or a display.

Because system 100 is configured to interrupt a sound system in vehicle 108, drivers of the second vehicle are less likely to be distracted by music or other sounds that would otherwise emanate from the sound system. In addition, when system 100 provides instructions to a driver of second vehicle 108, confusion of the driver — such as where to go (e.g., pull to the right) or what to do (e.g., stop) — may be reduced. Accordingly, the system may reduce response time for emergency vehicles, reduce transit time of emergency vehicles, and reduce a number of accidents caused by or involving emergency vehicles.

Component 106 may be configured to automatically activate and deactivate as an emergency vehicle approaches and passes by vehicle 108. Furthermore, component 106 may be configured to automatically play and/or display a message as vehicle 104 approaches and stop playing and/or displaying the message after vehicle 104 passes. To further mitigate distractions to a driver in vehicle 108, component 106 may additionally include a Bluetooth transmitter to interrupt any proximate Bluetooth enabled device (e.g., a phone) and optionally transmit a message which may be audible or visible on the Bluetooth device. In accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the invention, receiver component 106 is coupled to a stereo system and/or speakers within vehicle 108. Using existing speakers and/or stereo equipment may reduce an overall cost of a vehicle including a stereo and receiver component 106 and may reduce an amount of space within vehicle 108 required to install component 106. hi accordance with alternative embodiments, component 106 is integrated with a car stereo system.

Fig. 2 illustrates receiver component 106, which uses speakers 202-212 of a sound system 200, installed in vehicle 108. In the illustrated embodiment, system 200 includes a battery 214, a stereo 216 that may include a radio, an MP3 player, a CD player, a DVD player, and/or the like, and combinations thereof, and optionally an external amplifier 218. In accordance with various aspects of these embodiments an audible signal from component 106 does not need bass or additional amplification. In this case, component 106 may bypass external amplifier 218 and couple directly to speakers 202-212. In accordance with additional aspects, component 106 bypasses an internal amplifier of stereo 216. Alternatively, as illustrated, component 106 may be coupled to external amplifier 218, using, e.g., a left, right, and ground wire and an output of component 106 may include a left, right, and ground wire.

Component 106 may also include visible indications, such as a light (e.g., a light emitting diode) to indicate the component has been activated by a signal from transmitter 102. Additionally, component 106 includes a display and the warning and/or instructions may be visibly displayed for a driver or passenger.

Fig. 3 illustrates receiver component 106 in greater detail. In the illustrated embodiment, component 106 includes an interrupt and relay circuit 302, a voltage regulator 304, a microcontroller 306, an MP3 decoder 308, an amplifier 310, and a receiver 312. Voltage regulator 304 is coupled to receiver 312, microcontroller 302, MP3 decoder and memory 308, digital-to-analog converter 310, and interrupt circuit 302 to provide, e g., 5V power. Microcontroller 304 is coupled to receiver 312, MP3 decoder 308, voltage regulator 304, and amplifier 310. MP3 decoder 308 is coupled to microcontroller 306, amplifier 310, and regulator 304. Amplifier 310 is coupled between interrupt and relay circuit 302 and MP3 decoder 308 and is coupled to regulator 304.

Circuit 302 may include a dual-pole-dual-throw (DPDT) relay, which may be controlled by a three-volt signal from microcontroller 306 (e.g., an LPC2378 microcontroller available from NXP) containing the software code set forth below for decoding the received signal identifier (from receiver 312) and controlling the attached MP3 decoder 308. Microcontroller 306 may also employ both serial and USB 2.0 external communications for ease of access to the flash memory in order to facilitate the loading of additional audio files for, e.g., multi-language support and STA013 MP3 decoder controlled by the microcontroller via an I 2 C bus. Other component 106 configurations are also within the scope of the present invention.

//STA013 Initialization Function

//Initializes the MP3 decoder and leaves it in the play state //IN: None //OUT: Void void imtializeSTA0l3 (void) ,

//STA013 Play Function

//Accept data request from and write to I2C bus starting at startaddress // and ending at endaddress

//IN: Addresses of mp3 file to play (begin and end)

//OUT Void void play (int, int) ; int mam ()

{ imtializeSTA013 (); //initialize code bit variables and static code bits bool code_recieved_once = FALSE, //Flags for receipt of proper code code_recieved_twice = FALSE, correct_code = FALSE; while ( !code_recieved_twice) { correct_code = FALSE;

//get input from reciever buffer to cbvl if(cbvl == cbsl)

{

//get input from reciever buffer to cbv2 if (cbv2 == cbs2) //get input from reciever buffer to cbv3 if(cbv3 == cbs3)

{

//get input from reciever buffer to cbv4 if (cbv4 == cbs4 ) {

//get xnput from reciever buffer to cbvΞ if (cbv5 == cbs5)

{

//get input from reciever buffer to cbv6 if(cbv6 ==cbs6)

{

//get input from reciever buffer to cbv7 if(cbv7 =- cbs7) //get input from reciever buffer to cbv8 if (cbv8 == cbsδ)

{ correct_code = TRUE; if (code recieved once) { code_recieved_twice = TRUE; } else code_recieved_once = TRUE;

}

//Incorrect code resets the flags if ( ! correct_code)

{ code_recieved_once = FALSE; code recieved_twice = FALSE, }

//Code passed redundancy check: play MP3 if (code_recieved__twice)

{

//bring relay interrupt pm high play (start_address, stop_address) ;

//bring relay interrupt pm low } } return 0 ; } void mitializeSTA013 (void)

{

//Send initialization code file to STA013 on I2C bus void play (int startaddress /*IN*/, int endaddress /*IN*/)

{

//declare and initialize address pointer and total int num_addresses = endaddress-startaddress , int address count = 0; while (address_count < num_addresses)

{

/ /get data request status if ( Λdata req*/ ) {

//write data at address (startaddress + address count) address count++ ;

In accordance with various embodiments of the invention, MP3 decoder 308 decodes audio files stored on microcontroller 306. In one example, MP3 decoder 308 is constantly biased at 5 V and uses milliwatts of power when active.

In operation, transmitter 102 is activated by personnel in vehicle 104. The activation many be integrated with activation of other warning signals (e.g., sirens or lights) or separately activated. Transmitter 102 sends a signal with a range of transmission of about one quarter mile. In accordance with an exemplary embodiment, about 1 to about 2 watts of power are used for the transmission. Receiver 312 detects the signal from transmitter 102, filters the carrier signal, and sends an identifier signal to microcontroller 306. Microcontroller 306 verifies (e.g., checks twice) the identifier code (e.g., an 8-bit code) sent by transmitter 102 and filtered by receiver 312. Once the identifier code is verified, microcontroller 306 transmits a control signal to MP3 decoder 308 to decode an audio file stored on microcontroller 306. The decoded audio file is then amplified with amplifier 310 and transmitted to circuit 302 and to the speakers. Upon receipt of a control signal, circuit 302 interrupts a stereo coupled to the circuit, or, if the attached stereo is off, circuit 302 plays the message over the speakers without affecting the stereo.

As noted above, transmitter 102 is designed to communicate with receiver 106 to alert a driver in vehicle 108 of approaching first vehicle 104. In accordance with various embodiments of the invention, transmitter 102 broadcasts a mobile, line-of-sight signal, using a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved frequency. Presently, the FCC frequency range for such communications is 2.2 GHz - 2.29 GHz. The signal includes an identifier, which corresponds to a type of vehicle transmitting the signal and a carrier. In accordance with various aspects of these embodiments, the transmitter uses a signal (e.g., at 2.2GHz) to initiate an interrupt of sound system 200 and to play a prerecorded message and/or to transmit a message, which corresponds to the identifier signal/type of vehicle (e.g., fire, police, ambulance). The message may be audible and/or visible and provide instructions such as "emergency vehicle is approaching; please safely merge to the right and come to a complete stop," or "police vehicle approaching; please pull over to the right." In accordance with further aspects, the transmitter works in connection with other warning devices, such as sirens and lights, typically employed on emergency vehicles. In accordance with additional aspects of these embodiments, transmitter 102 is configured to turn in relation to the direction of travel of first vehicle 104 or to continuously rotate. In addition or in the alternative, vehicle 104 may include multiple line-of-sight transmitters to broadcast the signals simultaneously in multiple directions.

Fig. 4 illustrates an exemplary transmitter circuit 400 suitable for transmitter 102. Circuit 400 includes a regulator 402 to regulate voltage to about 5 V from, for example, an automobile 12 V battery, a clock 404, an 8-bit switch 406, a multiplexer 408, and a transmitter 410, which transmits a carrier signal and an 8-bit code corresponding to a type of vehicle 104 (e.g., a police car, a fire engine, an ambulance, etc.).

Fig. 5 illustrates an exemplary receiver circuit 500 suitable for receiver component 106. Circuit 500 includes receiver 502, voltage regulator 504, microcontroller 506, MP3 decoder 508, amplifier 510, and relay 512, which correspond to the same components illustrated in Fig. 3. Although the present invention is set forth herein in the context of the appended drawing figures, it should be appreciated that the invention is not limited to the specific form shown. Various modifications, variations, and enhancements in the design and arrangement of the method and apparatus set forth herein may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as set forth in the appended claims.