Saturday 19 December 2015

Poly students devise ways to keep Home Team safe

Spiked roadblock, remote-controlled car and robotic fireman stand out in contest
By Jasmine Osada, The Straits Times, 17 Dec 2015

They may be students, but the six young inventors from Temasek Polytechnic, who won top prizes in the Ministry of Home Affairs' Security Awareness For Everyone (SAFE) Competition, presented such innovative ideas that Home Team veterans were left impressed.

Their projects - a spiked roadblock that can be automatically triggered to stop getaway cars, a remote-controlled car that can help Customs officials check for contraband, and a robotic fireman - won one gold and two silver awards last month.

The annual contest promotes safety and security awareness among young people by getting them to develop innovative solutions to safety and security concerns.

Third-year engineering students Ho Ying Jie, 19, and Celeste Tan, 20, whose Speed Sensitive Spike (SSS) Ramp project won gold, said the shooting incident that happened near the Shangri-La Hotel earlier this year drew their attention to the dangers that police face when manning a roadblock. "We wanted to create a roadblock that would be safer for police and security personnel," said Ms Tan.

The SSS Ramp, which took the two students about three months to develop and build, comprises two short ramps with a spike mechanism installed in each.

Twin sensors calculate the speed at which a vehicle is travelling and, if this exceeds a preset value programmed into the ramp, the spikes will be automatically activated. They can effectively stop a vehicle as large as a lorry.

Existing roadblocks with spikes need to be built into a road, but the SSS Ramp can be installed on any surface in five to 10 minutes. At about 20kg each, the ramps are portable. Ms Ho and Ms Tan are in talks with the traffic police on the possible implementation of the SSS Ramp.

Mr Edward Tan, a planning officer with the force, said: "It is the first innovation that uses a speed sensor to activate the spike, and stands out from other roadblocks I have seen."

Silver award winners Kelvin Ang, 18, and Karyl Hong, 17, as well as Ong Pei Shan, 19, and Dolly Khung, 23, were also given the thumbs-up for their ideas. Mr Ang and Ms Hong's project, the Portable Automobile Security Screener (Pass), lets Customs officials check the undercarriage of cars for contraband without using mirrors or having to physically bend down to look.

The Pass remote-controlled vehicle has two LED lights and a pair of wide-angle cameras that feed real-time video images to two screens as it moves.

The prototype was recently tested by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

"This is a feasible innovation that would help tighten security," said the ICA Tuas Checkpoint's deputy commander, Mr Loh Bak Hwee.

Ms Ong and Ms Khung's project, the Heat Exterminating Robotic Orbiter (Hero), can be set to automatically launch capsules filled with fire-retardant powder at a growing fire. The device is especially useful for fires too large to approach with a fire extinguisher.

Ang Mo Kio Fire Station's Major Lee Soon Huat said: "It's impressive, as Hero prevents exposure against fire. It also has high potential to benefit the Singapore Civil Defence Force."

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