The persistent, annoying blare of an ignored car alarm may become a sound of the past if a cooperative, mutable and silent network of monitors proposed by Penn State researchers is deployed in automobiles and parking lots.
"The basis of this system is trust," says Sencun Zhu, assistant professor of computer science and engineering. "You need to trust the entity that distributes the system's sensors, so you can rely on all the monitored cars having the goal of protecting your car and others from theft."
Working with Guohong Cao, associate professor of computer science and engineering, and Hui Song, recent Penn State graduate and now an assistant professor at Frostburg State University, Zhu developed a monitoring system that relies on a network formed by the cars parked in a parking lot. When a car enters a lot and parks, the sensor is alerted – probably when the car door locks -- and it sends out a signal that in essence says, "hello, I am here." Sensors in nearby cars acknowledge the signal and incorporate the new car into their network. Periodically, each car sends out a signal indicating that it is still there. When the driver unlocks the car, the sensor sends out a "goodbye" message and the network removes that car, and it drives away.
If, however, a car leaves the network without issuing a goodbye message, the other cars will notice the absence or the "still here" message. Once the system has confirmed that the car is gone, checking that other cars have not received the "still here" message, the monitoring sensor sends a signal identifying the car to the base unit in the parking lot, which will phone the owner to indicate the car is missing. The owner can then check it out.
"Our thought is that the apartment complex owner could provide the sensors with the parking stickers as an additional free perk," says Zhu, also assistant professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State. "All they need is the base unit, the car owner's phone number and the sensors in the car for the car should be safe in the lot."
If a car is stolen from the lot, it is preferable that the theft be noticed and reported before the car leaves the lot, but if it is not, the Sensor network-based Vehicle Anti-Theft system, SVATS, has another layer of protection.
Read more at - 'Cooperative system could wipe out car alarm noise'