The topic of children dying of heat stroke in vehicles has gained increasing attention in recent years. Euro NCAP has added Child Presence Detection on its Roadmap 2025, ASEAN NCAP has a similar initiative and the US Congress is currently debating a dedicated HOT CARS bill, with all initiatives aiming at reducing the risk of heat stroke fatalities in vehicles. In the US alone, there have been 849 known fatal incidents since 1998, with 2018 and 2019 having been record years with 53 respectively 52 children dying in hot cars. In-vehicle heat related fatalities occur almost anywhere in the world, and any vehicle category can be concerned. Recent child deaths in US school buses led to legal settlements exceeding 23 million dollars. About 75% of the children that die in vehicles are younger than 3 years. So, when thinking about a sensing solution that can detect their presence, one has to take into consideration that they are frequently sleeping. IEE has developed a radiofrequency-based sensing technology that is sensitive enough to detect the breathing motion of sleeping infants. After the driver locks the vehicle, the sensor typically detects presence in a few seconds. This presence information is then communicated to the vehicle, which can trigger and escalate various warnings, or initiate countermeasures, depending on its capabilities (visual/audible alerts, messages to smartphone, etc.). IEE offers two different sensing solutions to address the issue: - VitaSense: tailored for passenger cars, detects the presence of an unattended child (or animal) after the driver has left the vehicle. Serial development for market introduction late 2020. - LiDAS (Life Detection Assistance System): using a network of sensors for larger vehicles such a school bus. Retrofit solution tailored to the various needs of (school) bus fleet operators. US school districts are currently running test fleet pilot studies. Starting 2022, VitaSense can improve the Euro NCAP vehicle safety rating. Child Presence Detection will contribute with up to 4 points to the child safety category. The CPD protocol is currently under development, and a robust detection solution will be needed in order to get a significant fraction of the available points. Contrary to the known “check rear seat” alerts only assuming that there might be a child, VitaSense only triggers alerts if an occupant is actually detected, preventing a false positives perception or a habituation effect due to too frequent unnecessary alerts. LiDAS has been derived from the VitaSense concept, with the dedicated aim to be used in vehicles transporting larger numbers of children (large vans, school buses). There are numerous examples of children inadvertently being left on a bus or van after the driver left, even if drivers had the duty to check that the bus was empty before leaving. A network of sensors is installed above the seat benches, with the number of sensors adapted to the size of the vehicle. The sensing, notification strategy and data management can be adapted to the needs and preferences of the bus fleet operator.
Mr. Thierry Mousel, IEE S.A., LUXEMBOURG Mr. Peter Larsen, IEE S.A., LUXEMBOURG