Harness IP pro bono efforts lead middle schoolers to patent award for scooter safety technology

East Hills Middle School Great Engineering Kids of Tomorrow, also known as the GEKOT Robotics Team, was awarded a patent for the Collision Alert Systems (CATS) and Methods for Micromobility Vehicles. The technology is an alert system for micromobility vehicles that alerts scooter drivers and pedestrians of potential accidents.

Attorney Michael Doerr, a principal at Harness IP’s Detroit Metro office, led the pro bono project alongside the GEKOT Robotics Team, guiding the students through the patent approval process. Doerr helped them prepare and file both provisional and non-provisional patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“This is a group of talented, young leaders who demonstrate that anyone can make an impact in their community,” Doerr said. “We are thrilled with this outcome and happy to have partnered with the students and staff at East Hills Middle School. Harness IP is committed to giving back to our community and we enjoy being a part of pro bono opportunities like this. We look forward to the impact this group will continue to make on our community.”

The GEKOT Robotics Team identified a need for new CATS safety measures following a rapid increase in scooter and micromobility vehicles in urban areas, which has led to an accompanying spike in mishaps. About 117,600 people were treated for electric scooter incidents and 68 people died between 2017 and 2021, according to a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The system uses speed and proximity sensors, such as a LiDAR sensor, to detect potential collisions and generate the alerts, as needed. One unique feature of this system is the use of three different modes, including a bypass mode for when the scooter is stopped at a traffic signal, a warning mode for when the scooter is traveling at normal speeds and detecting potential collisions, and a demonstration mode for showing the system and alerts to others without having to drive the scooter around at normal speeds.

“These kids worked hard to prepare these patent applications in 2019 and the more formal version, a non-provisional patent application, which we filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in November 2020. We also filed in China, and there is still a related patent application that remains pending at the USPTO,” Doerr said. “They gained firsthand knowledge of the process and, most importantly, the value in protecting their creations.” 

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