Driving down Florida’s highways during lovebug season can be irritating, distracting, and even dangerous. Swarms of the insects can engulf vehicles, rapidly leading to poor visibility once they hit the windshield.
A team of Florida Polytechnic University students is developing a device for the company Omni Pressure Cleaning that will quickly clean vehicles of lovebug debris and get drivers safely back on the road. The effort is the team’s capstone design project.
Dorian Alberti, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said in addition to obstructed windshields, lovebug splatter can block vehicle sensors, limiting the functionality of tools such as object proximity sensors.
“Our sponsor was in his Ford and it told him to pull off the road because his sensor caught the debris,” said Alberti, a native of Madison, Florida. “That’s when he thought about creating something that would clean your windshield or bumper sensors to let you be on your way.”
The solution the seven-member team is working on is an arm attachment for water tanker trucks that would swing down and allow nozzles to quickly spray a windshield or bumper to remove road and insect debris.
“It’s cool to be able to apply what we’ve learned at school to this project and put it into a real-life situation,” said Sean Goins, a senior mechanical engineering major from Plant City, Florida.
Goins and Alberti are currently working to determine material selection, flow rate, and nozzle design and movement. Once they’re done with the mechanical engineering portion of the project, it will advance to other Florida Poly team members in the areas of electrical engineering, computer science, and computer engineering.
“Our computer engineering and computer science team members will work on computer vision and automation to allow sensors on the arm to detect your vehicle and map it out so it doesn’t bump it into you,” Alberti said.
The robotic windshield washer team will present its project at the Capstone Design Showcase to be held at the end of the spring semester.
“The potential for this project is huge,” Alberti said. “You can almost picture trucks on the side of I-4 at rest stops and you pull in front of one and it cleans your windshield and you’re on your way.
“It’s like a pitstop, but for your windshield.”
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