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Self-Driving Trash Bin Makes Taking Out the Garbage Easier

Computer Engineering Grads Create Innovative Projects
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The inconvenience of taking out the weekly garbage bins motivated a team of computer engineering students to create a product to help others out with this necessary household chore.

The students, all Class of 2017 graduates, designed and created a hassle-free self-driving trash bin as their two-semester capstone senior project, under the mentorship of Kiran George, chair and professor of computer engineering.

“Our team chose this idea because we wanted to work on a project that could have a positive impact on a wide audience,” said team member Kevin Nguyen. “Since every home has waste bins that are pulled out weekly, we wanted to put our knowledge of electronics to automate this task.”

Through the multidisciplinary course, students gain experience that harnesses creativity and versatility toward a design effort with realistic socio-economic constraints and develop skills, such as creating a feasibility study, project planning, design formulation, time budgeting and task division among team members, explained George.

“Being involved in this type of computer engineering project helps students get prepared for the workforce by giving them a well-rounded experience,” added George, recipient of this year’s L. Donald Shields Excellence in Scholarship and Creativity Award. “Their projects require them to think independently, do research and brainstorm different concepts.”

George allowed students the freedom to work at their own pace and provided positive guidance toward a working prototype, noted Nguyen, who plans to pursue graduate school and aspires to become an entrepreneur. The automated trash bin prototype can drive itself by using controls set via a user-friendly android phone application and can detect obstacles in its path, as well as when the trash has been removed from the bin.

However, the prototype has its limitations, Nguyen confided. “It’s not fully weather proof, but some design changes can be made to accommodate these needs,” he said. “Our design and approach is enough to prove that an autonomous trash bin is possible.”

Nguyen’s teammates and fellow graduates are Daniel Martinez and Erick Soto.

Other 2017 computer engineering senior design projects included:

  • The “Smart Pitch” automated baseball pitching machine throws a sequence of pitches remotely by using an app.
  • Autonomous coral reef tank maintains salt and water levels and temperature without user intervention.
  • Self-cooling water bottle uses solar power to cool and maintain contents at a predetermined temperature via an app.
  • Motion-sensing robotic glove uses the sense of touch for gaming applications.
  • Automated pool treatment system adjusts pool chemicals on daily basis.