Focused Sound Safety Warning System

Abstract

A warning system for intersections, particularly those involving a railway crossing is provided. The present invention comprises a triggering mechanism to identify when a target train or vehicle is approaching a target intersection, software to calculate the speed of the target vehicle or train in relation to the target intersection and further comprising sound emission features to emit a desired sound, and an acoustic beam emitter to focus a warning sound in the direction of and local to only the danger zone. Also provided is a supplementary system to provide a warning to pedestrian crossing predetermined danger points.

Claims

1 . A wayside warning system comprising: a motion sensing member for detecting when a train passes a first predetermined point; a speed calculation member that provide locomotive/train speed information to the system; at least one acoustic beam emitter for sending a sound throughout a predetermined danger zone; and, a controller for signaling to the acoustic beam emitter that the motion sensing member has detected an oncoming train. 2 . The wayside warning system of claim 1 wherein the speed calculating member is selected from the group of transducers or radars. 3 . The wayside warning system of claim 1 wherein the controller further includes software for calculating the speed of the train. 4 . The controller of claim 2 wherein the software further calculates the time it will take for a train to cross a predetermined point. 5 . The wayside warning system of claim 1 wherein the at least one acoustic beam emitter emits a signal throughout a predetermined warning zone only. 6 . A wayside warning system comprising: a motion sensing member for detecting when a train passes a first predetermined point; at least one acoustic beam emitter for sending a sound throughout a predetermined danger zone; and, a controller for signaling to the acoustic beam emitter that the motion sensing member has detected an oncoming train. 7 . The wayside warning system of claim 5 wherein the controller further includes software for calculating the speed of the train. 8 . The controller of claim 7 wherein the software further calculates the time it will take for a train to cross a predetermined point. 9 . The wayside warning system of claim 6 wherein the at least one acoustic beam emitter emits a signal throughout a predetermined warning zone only. 10 . The wayside warning system of claim 6 wherein the vehicle is a train or motor vehicle operating on a roadway. 11 . The wayside warning system of claim 6 wherein the acoustic beam emitter generates sound in a focused array that can be adjusted to a changing danger zone. 12 . A warning system comprising a sensor to detect the approach of a moving object, a controller that receives a signal from the sensor and activates the warning system, a second sensor placed at a predetermined point for detecting the approach of a pedestrian or vehicle that may collide with the moving object, at least one acoustic beam emitter that emits a warning to a predetermined area if the second sensor is activated. 13 . A method for issuing a warning that an oncoming train or other vehicle is approaching a predetermined point comprising the steps of: placing a motion sensing device for detecting when an oncoming train or other vehicle passes at a predetermined point; activating software for calculating the speed of a vehicle from input received from a speed calculating member; and, activating at least one acoustic beam emitter to send a sound throughout a predetermined danger zone with the software. 14 . The method of claim 13 further including the step of having the software calculate the time before the oncoming train or vehicle will pass the predetermined point. 15 . The method of claim 14 further including the step of using the software to generate a specific sound for a specific situation. 16 . The method of claim 16 further including the step of specific sound for a specific situation includes a predetermined sequence of sounds. 17 . The method of claim 14 including the further steps of: placing at least one supplementary sensor at predetermined locations generally parallel to a direction along which the oncoming train or other vehicle is traveling; associating acoustic beam emitters with the at least one supplementary sensor, the acoustic beam emitters emitting a focused warning sound to a second predetermined danger zone if the at least one supplementary sensor is activated. 18 . The method of claim 14 including the further steps of selecting a speed calculating member from the group of transducers or radars.
I. TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION [0001] The present invention relates to safety warning systems and, more particularly, to a safety warning system that employs a multi transducer phase emitter to focus sound in the direction of the potential danger. II. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND PRIOR ART [0002] Warning systems to prevent collisions between vehicles or pedestrians and trains have been used for decades. They are found in many forms. The most commonly known is a crossing gate with warning signals sent out by speakers attached to the gate. Other representative forms include a simple RR crossing sign, and a RR crossing sign with sound signals. Separate from the railroad intersection warning systems is a sound blast emanating from the train itself. [0003] While these systems should create a satisfactory warning mechanism for railway crossings, there continues to be a high number of vehicle/train and pedestrian/train accidents each year. According to a Federal Railway Authority study conducted from 1989 to 1994, there was an average of 6,481 accidents each year. [0004] The most effective of the warnings is the train horn blast. However, up until recently communities were permitted to establish quiet areas via a whistle ban that prevented trains from blasting their horns except for emergencies. Many times blasting at the time of an emergency is too late—the train cannot stop in time and the vehicle or pedestrian in the train's path cannot get out of the way. [0005] In an attempt to decrease the number of accidents, Congress passed the Swift Rail Development Act, Public Law 103-440 (Swift Act), which added Section 20153, Audible Warnings at Highway-Rail Crossings, to Title 49 of the United States Code. Section 20153 directs the Federal Rail Authority to issue a rule requiring the use of train horns at all public highway-rail crossings. Due to a subsequent ruling issued by the Federal Rail Authority trains are required to sound their horns at every rail crossing in the US, including areas that currently have whistle bans. The whistle blast is to consist of two long blasts, one short blast one long blast where a long blast is 5 seconds and a short blast is 2 seconds. The total horn blast is 17 seconds per intersection. In city areas with many railway crossings, there will be constant horn blasts for several minutes with each passing train. [0006] The sound generated by the train blast warning, can be heard, often very loudly, outside of the danger zone. With the expected dramatic increase of horn blasts this, in turn, will cause undue noise pollution, thereby affecting the quality of life of those living within audible range of the intersection, decrease property values, and perhaps most importantly results in a situation wherein the actual location of potential danger cannot be precisely known. Even without the new rule, train horn blasts can be quite disruptive and, as stated above, are often times ineffective in preventing accidents. Moreover, certain areas, such as those surrounding hospitals, need as quiet as possible. Horns blasting disrupt this type of environment. [0007] Attempts have been made to address the issue, including removing the blast from the train to a point perpendicular to an intersection where, upon activation, a horn blast is directed down the railway intersecting street. While prior attempts advance the art, they are limited by the fact that they rely on conventional air sound devices to create a warning. These devices continue to disrupt an unnecessarily large area surrounding an intersection. A further limitation of the prior art is that it does not appear to make attempt to calculate the speed of an oncoming train in order to better time the warning signal. Further, no attempt has been made monitor the cycling of the systems, thus leaving the horn blasts to carry on for an indeterminate time until a train passes a predetermined point. This can cause a problem if a train is moving slowly or stops at or near a crossing. Further the prior art attempts do not have provisions for additional, or separate, warnings localized to areas such as pedestrian crosswalks. [0008] To protect themselves from the onslaught of excessive noise, communities can create safety and quiet zones by using physical barriers such as four quadrant gates, raised curbs or other barrier devices. The drawback to the barrier type devices is that they are unsightly and expensive to install. The capital outlay for physical devices can be substantial, approaching $400,000 per intersection. [0009] There is need, therefore, for an effective intersection warning device that is particularly suited for use with railway-street intersections, railway-crosswalk intersections, and railway platforms or other similar environments, such as roadways. The device should warn vehicles and pedestrians in an efficient, timely, and cost effective manner of an oncoming train, or in appropriate circumstances, of an oncoming vehicle. The device should produce an overall environment in which noise pollution is kept to a minimum and, in turn, quality of life and property values are maintained. Such a device is found in the present invention. [0010] The present invention employs a triggering mechanism, speed/distance calculating and sound emission software, and an acoustic beam emitter. The present invention is able to calculate the speed of an oncoming train in relation to a particular railway crossing. Based upon the speed of the train, the software will calculate the timing and, if needed, the type of warning blast to be emitted from the acoustic beam emitter. The acoustic beam emitter then generates a focused beam of sound in the direction of the warning zone. Due to the unique characteristics of the acoustic beam emitter, only those within the warning zone will hear the warning blast. [0011] As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, even without the implementation of the Federal Railway Authority ruling, the present invention offers communities and the nation's railway companies an improved method of alerting vehicles and pedestrians of an oncoming train. Moreover, and as will be also be appreciated by those in the art, the present invention is an effective means to produce a warning at any type of intersection; for example, at street intersection to provide warning of an oncoming emergency vehicle. III. OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION [0012] It is an object of the present invention to provide a warning system that uses a focused sound acoustic beam emission. [0013] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a warning system that employs speed/distance software to calculate the speed of an approaching train or emergency vehicle in relation to an intersection. [0014] It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a warning system that focuses the warning sound in only the direction of the danger zone. [0015] It is an advantage of the present invention that noise pollution will be decreased. [0016] It is another advantage of the present invention property values will be better maintained. [0017] It is yet a further advantage of the present invention that quality of life in the area surrounding a warning zone will be improved. [0018] It is yet a further advantage of the present invention that the safety of vehicle passengers and pedestrians in the area surrounding a warning zone will be improved. [0019] The foregoing objects and advantages are provided for in the present invention and as more fully describes below. IV. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION [0020] In its preferred embodiment, the present invention comprises a warning system for use in conjunction with railway crossings. The inventive system employs a motion sensing member that serves as a system triggering mechanism, software for calculating train speed and time to reach a predetermined point and for generating sound emission, and an acoustic beam emitter for sending a focused beam of sound throughout only a predetermined danger zone. [0021] The present invention is activated by a passing train triggering the motion sensor. The motion sensor then sends a signal to a computer that houses software, the software calculates the speed of the train in relation to a particular predetermined railway crossing. Based upon the speed of the train, the software will calculate the timing and, if needed, the type of warning blast to be emitted from the acoustic beam emitter. The acoustic beam emitter then generates a focused beam of sound in the direction of the warning zone, the acoustic beam emitter emitting a sound only heard within the danger zone. [0022] In another embodiment, the system is used for generating warning sounds in areas other than railway crossings. For non-limiting example, the system may be employed at a road intersection to warn intersection traffic and pedestrians of oncoming emergency vehicles. [0023] In yet a further embodiment of the present invention, the device includes a separate motion detector for sensing motion pedestrian or vehicle movement past a predetermined safety area. In this embodiment, the acoustic sound emitter is placed at an angle generally perpendicular to the path of traffic. As a train (or in the case of a roadway intersection, a vehicle) sets the main warning system in motion, the second motion detector is activated. If a pedestrian or vehicle passes the second motion detector, the acoustic beam emitter placed generally perpendicular to the path of traffic will activate to provide a warning that the pedestrian or vehicle is encroaching upon a danger zone. [0024] There has been outlined, rather broadly, the more important features of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof that follows may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are, of course, additional features of the invention that will be described hereinafter and that will form the subject matter of the invention. [0025] As such, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception, upon which this disclosure is based, may readily be utilized as a basis for designing of other structures, methods, and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions in so far as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention. [0026] For a non-limiting example, it is readily apparent that the inventive system could be used in any type of intersection or crossing situation such as a road intersection to notify vehicles in the area of approaching emergency vehicles. [0027] Further, the purpose of the abstract is to enable the US patent and trademark office and the public generally, and especially the scientists, engineers and practitioners in the art who are not familiar with the patent or legal terms or phraseology, to determine quickly from what cursory inspection the nature and essence of the technical disclosure of the application. The abstract is neither intended to define the invention of the application, which is measured by the claims, nor is it intended to be limiting as to the scope of the present invention in any way. [0028] These together with other objects of the present invention, along with the various features of novelty which characterize the present invention, are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed to and forming a part of this disclosure. For a better understanding of the present invention, its operating advantages and the specific objects attained by its uses, reference should be had to the accompanying drawings and descriptive matter in which there is illustrated a preferred embodiment of the present invention. V. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS [0029] FIG. 1 depicts a flow chart of the inventive device. [0030] FIG. 2 is a rendition of the inventive device in service. [0031] FIG. 3 is a drawing of a warning zone superimposed upon the inventive device sound emission zone. [0032] FIG. 4 is a drawing of a conventional warning system sound warning area. VI. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION [0033] Before explaining the preferred embodiment of the present invention in detail, it is to be understood that the present invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The present invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. [0034] Turning to FIG. 1 , the present invention comprises a warning system 20 for use in conjunction with railway crossings. The inventive system employs a motion sensing member 22 that serves as a system triggering mechanism, transducers 24 to detect the speed of the oncoming tracked vehicle. Alternatively, a doppler radar device set nearby could be used to track acceleration and deceleration of a locomotive. [0035] The transducers, in turn feed information to a controller 26 that contains software 28 for calculating train speed and time to reach a predetermined point A and for generating sound emission B, and an acoustic beam emitter 30 for sending a focused beam of sound C throughout only a predetermined danger zone D. [0036] As illustrated in FIG. 2 , a railroad crossing is generally designed with railroad tracks 12 and a road 14 oriented generally transverse to tracks 12 with automobiles 16 crossing track 12 at intersection 18 . [0037] The inventive system is activated by a passing train 32 triggering the motion sensing member 22 at predetermined point A causing transducers 24 to generate signals to calculate train speed. The motion sensing member 22 then sends a signal to computer 36 containing software 28 . Software 28 calculates the speed of the train in relation to a particular predetermined railway crossing B. Based upon the speed of the train, the software will calculate the timing and, if needed, the type of warning blast to be emitted from acoustic beam emitter 30 . Acoustic beam emitter 30 mounted at a point near the intersection and in a direction parallel to the intersecting road then generates a focused beam of sound C in the direction of the warning zone D, the acoustic beam emitter 30 emitting a sound only heard within the warning zone. [0038] Instead of relying on a conventional air horn to generate a warning sound, the present invention uses recently developed ship to ship hailing technology that allows the sound to be focused in a narrow beam, much like the light emitted from a flashlight. When used with a warning system, the focused sound is heard only by the motorists and pedestrians that are in imminent danger. Nearby businesses and neighborhood residents are unaffected. [0039] Moreover, the system includes features that cause it to cycle only once, thereby recreating the train horn blast as though coming from the train. [0040] The present invention provides an advance over recent prior art in that, as can be seen in FIG. 4 , the prior art systems rely on traditional horn blasts emanating from horns placed at railway intersections. Thus, the sound of the blast is not directed to the actual warning area, as is seen with the present invention, but instead to the general surrounding area C′. The traditional prior art systems, therefore, disrupt an area far larger than is necessary and certainly an area much larger than the focused sound of the present invention as seen in FIG. 3 at C which coincides with warning zone D. [0041] As illustrated in the sound comparison chart below, the noise generated by a warning system can have a major impact on the surrounding area. Sound Comparisons 80 dB 100 dB 70 dB 2x as loud as moderately 90 dB Very Loud - 8X as loud Moderately Loud loud 4 X as loud as moderately loud as moderately loud Car @ 25 ft @ 65 mph Shouting @ 3 ft Chain Saw @ 3 ft Boeing 707 or DC-8 aircraft at one nautical mile (6080 ft) before landing . . . 106 dB Inside Airplane Cabin Propeller plane flyover at Airplane @ 1000 ft Jet flyover at 1000 feet 1000 ft 103 dB Busy Street Diesel truck 40 mph at 50 ft Power mower Power Saw Small orchestra Dial tone of telephone Motorcycle at 25 ft Normal conversation at 35 ft Typical Home Stereo Subway train at 200 ft. [0042] As seen in FIG. 3 , the area of a 100 dB emission is seen along line E while the prior art has a 100 dB strength sound blast within circle E′ ( FIG. 4 ). The present invention has a 60 to 70 dB sound emission along line F ( FIG. 3 ) while the prior art has the same level blast within circle F′ ( FIG. 4 ). [0043] In another embodiment of the invention, and turning to FIG. 5 , movement detectors 38 can be placed a multiple locations perpendicular to track 12 , including but not limited to sidewalk 50 and depot platform crossing 52 . Detectors 38 are activated when system 20 , through controller 26 , notifies them of an approaching train. If a pedestrian crosses predetermined point G, a signal is sent to supplementary acoustic sound emitters 40 which, in turn emit a focused beam warning to advise that a train is approaching and further forward movement is dangerous. Again using focused beam technology, the warning signal is limited to warning zone H, thus keeping the warning to the danger zone only and not disrupting the surrounding area. [0044] In yet another embodiment, the system is used for generating warning sounds in areas other than railway crossings. For non-limiting example and turning to FIG. 6 , the system may be employed at a road intersection to warn intersection traffic and pedestrians of oncoming emergency vehicles. In this embodiment, road 54 and road 56 intersection at point I. Traditional traffic signal devices 58 may be employed. In this embodiment, activation sensors 60 may be set off by approaching emergency vehicles much in the same way current traffic lights are activated through the use of lights on the emergency vehicles themselves. In turn, the system works as depicted in FIG. 1 , thereby resulting in a warning signal being emitted through acoustic beam emitter 30 to a perpendicular road to the approaching emergency vehicle. [0045] It is to be understood that even though numerous characteristics and advantages of the preferred and alternative embodiments have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of the embodiments, the disclosure is illustrative only, and changes may be made in detail, especially in matters of shape, size and arrangement of parts within the principles of the invention to the full extent indicated by the broad general meaning of the terms in which the appended claims are expressed.

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Patent Citations (1)

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    US-9296334-B2March 29, 2016Harman International Industries, IncorporatedSystems and methods for disabling a vehicle horn
    US-9513602-B1December 06, 2016Lucera Labs, Inc.Waking alarm with detection and aiming of an alarm signal at a single person
    WO-2013123600-A1August 29, 2013Flow-Rite Safety Solutions Inc.Dispositif de signalisation et système d'évitement de collision