Atlanta high school students win grant to prevent hot-car deaths

They say Harris case motivated them

A team of Atlanta high school students won a $10,000 grant to invent a way to prevent children and pets from dying in hot cars.

The students from Drew Charter School say they were drawn to the project in part because of the death of Cooper Harris, a 2-year old who died in June 2014 after being left alone in his father's car. His father, Justin Ross Harris, is currently on trial, charged with murder. The defense maintains Cooper's death was a tragic accident.

The students plan to design an easy-to-install device that will sense when a child or pet is in a car after the driver has exited and, after a short period, alert the driver, bystanders and police.

Their long-term goal: Secure legislation to require all new vehicles to be equipped with their device.

It’s doable, they say.

“Our product is feasible because all of the components of our product already exist. We plan to use existing motion/thermal and temperature sensing technology calibrated, and integrated with mobile phone, GPS, and speaker technology to achieve our goals. We are committed to creating a solution to hot car deaths that can be widely used in existing and new vehicles, that will prevent the user of the product from losing their child or pet to the perils of a hot car,” they wrote in their application.

The Atlanta students were one of 15 groups of students nationally to win awards through the Lemelson-MIT Program.