Sentinel: A Novel Device to Alert Cyclists of Vehicles Approaching from the Rear;An Exploration of the Current Internet Architecture and the Need for Decentralization

Brnich, Brandon, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Powell, Harry, EN-Elec/Computer Engr Dept, University of Virginia

It can be seen that there is a very loose coupling between my STS research and the technical project I did for my capstone requirement. The technical project was developing a solar powered car detection system that is to be mounted on the front of the user’s bike and inform them of any oncoming vehicles from the rear. Whereas my STS research focuses on the faults in the centralized internet architecture and explores the other options that are available. My technical project inspired my STS research as I am very interested in blockchain technology. Since my technical project could be very easily connected to the IoT, I saw this as a gateway into learning how the IoT could be used along with the blockchain in creating a decentralized form of the internet.

The technical project was a solar powered car detection system that used an intuitive display to alert cyclists of oncoming vehicles. My capstone group was inspired to do this project as we had many avid cyclists and we noticed faults in similar products on the market. Therefore, we designed a system that could be easily recharged in between commutes, robust in most riding conditions, and was effective in alerting cyclists that vehicles were approaching from the rear.

The STS research focused on the idea that the current internet architecture is inequitable and those that are at the helm are irresponsibly using their lack of transparency against those that use the internet. In this research, I highlight the faults in the protocols used in the current internet while simultaneously showing numerous instances of large tech companies exploiting users and their lack of accountability when these exploitations are made public. Furthermore, I explore alternative options that are being developed in order to create a more equitable internet to all.

Despite the many challenges faced this year in both the STS and technical portions, I am overall very happy with the results. My technical group experienced many challenges throughout the semester that we were able to overcome. The biggest of these challenges being the intense timeline being imposed as my group was only given a semester compared to others who get the entire year. These challenges taught my group how to work dynamically and diligently in order to accomplish the tasks we set out for ourselves. In terms of my STS portion, I am very grateful to have been given the time to explore a topic that I’ve been interested in for many years.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Solar Power, Radar Sensor, Car Detection

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
Technical Advisor: Harry Powell
STS Advisor: Sean Ferguson
Technical Team Members: AJ Cuddeback, Julia Graham, Julia Rudy, Rex Serpe

Issued Date: