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KINGSTON â Five URI students recently created a tool that may make airplane travel safer and more cost effective for everyone.
Christopher Clark of Narragansett, Kyle DellaGrotta of Cranston, Lawrence Higgins of Portsmouth, David Powers of Cumberland, and Ronald Wheeler of Aurora, Ohio, were one of three 2014 winners of the national Federal Aviation Administrationâs (FAA) annual design competition. The contest seeks participants who can offer improvements in airport operations, and the teamâs invention did just that.
âThe âWingmanâ weighing in at five pounds and costing about $800, is a device to aid in the avoidance of wingtip collisions at airports. It can be suction cupped to the wingtips of planes in order to detect nearby objects and uses ultrasonic sensors to regulate the tarmac at airports while vehicles are being towed. The device informs plane operators that they are approaching a nearby object, at which point the device lights up and produces sound as a warning of collision. As the wingtip and the object get closer together, the deviceâs beeping tone accelerates and the LED lights begin to change color.
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