'Smart' police cars focus of $1 million grant to UH

November 04, 2004

HOUSTON, Nov. 4, 2004 - The Batmobile and KITT have nothing on the "smart" police cars coming to the University of Houston. These special law enforcement vehicles are about to get a high-tech makeover courtesy of a $1 million National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grant.

Highlighting the growing partnership between academia, industry and the law enforcement community in fighting crime across the country, UH researchers are developing advanced technologies to equip these vehicles - known as "smart" cars - with the latest law enforcement technologies to further enhance officers' crime-fighting capabilities. The state-of-the-art police car and SUV coming to campus will serve as test beds for mobile command centers.

Researchers in the UH Cullen College of Engineering are already developing such features as a rugged mass memory storage device derived from high-temperature superconductivity research pioneered at UH and integrated multifunctional antennas with multiple frequency bands on a vibration isolation platform for border patrol applications. This vibration isolation system will help protect sensitive electronic equipment inside the car during severe, off-road driving conditions.

"The research performed right here at the University of Houston will better protect our police and allow them to be even safer and more effective," said Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX), who helped secure the grant. "These dollars were awarded because the University of Houston has proven their research ability, and when the project is complete, UH will have provided the rest of the nation with a new concept of what a police car should be."

The University of Houston Police Department has been selected to receive two of these vehicles this winter, making the UHPD the mobile test bed for this law enforcement technology. In addition to strengthening campus officers' current crime-fighting technology, these vehicles will provide an evolving platform that is upgradeable as research and implementation indicate. As the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, the NIJ also is enabling new technology developed by UH engineers in collaboration with industry partners to be retrofitted into these vehicles for field tests and be transferred to law enforcement equipment and vehicle manufacturers.

UHPD Chief of Police Bob Wilson is excited about the possibilities. A medium-sized, full-service police agency and component of the university, the UHPD is in the unique position of being a "real world" entity located in a neutral environment with high-level research capabilities.

"We are extremely pleased to be afforded this opportunity to participate in the advancement of technology as it relates to the law enforcement profession," Wilson said. "We welcome a greater role in the education process at UH through these collaborative efforts with the Cullen College of Engineering, the National Institute of Justice, and law enforcement equipment and vehicle manufacturers."

"This funding is only the beginning," said Steven Pei, associate dean for research in the Cullen College of Engineering and the lead researcher on the project. "We are looking forward to a long-term partnership with the automotive industry, electronic equipment manufacturers and the law enforcement community to develop the next generation mobile command capability."

Police departments typically add many special devices to the standard police cars they acquire from manufacturers. Each piece of equipment, from sirens to radios to computers, requires its own controls and monitoring devices that tend to overcrowd the driver cockpit. In addition, these systems often are not designed or installed to focus on usability for the driver and operating ergonomics within the vehicle. Developing ways to integrate systems so that they work well with each other seamlessly and the rest of the environment will be a key focus of the research. For example, the SUV will be equipped with state-of-the-art radio-over-IP technology to address the communications interoperability problem that exists between different radio systems used by various law enforcement and emergency response units in a metropolitan area such as greater Houston, Pei said.

Besides the two vehicles, the remaining funds will be devoted to the university's research and development efforts. The vehicles are expected to arrive on campus in early January.

"This kicks off an important partnership between UH engineers and automotive engineers actively developing advanced systems integration for the automotive industry," said Raymond Flumerfelt, dean of the Cullen College of Engineering. "Our college is especially happy with this partnership in light of 9/11 and our current homeland security needs."
About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the Cullen College of Engineering

UH Cullen College of Engineering has produced five U.S. astronauts, ten members of the National Academy of Engineering, and degree programs that have ranked in the top ten nationally. With more than 2,600 students, the college offers accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees in biomedical, chemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, industrial, and mechanical engineering. It also offers specialized programs in aerospace, materials, petroleum engineering and telecommunications.

About the National Institute of Justice

NIJ is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice and is dedicated to researching crime control and justice issues. NIJ provides objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to meet the challenges of crime and justice, particularly at the State and local levels.

For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at www.uh.edu/newsroom

For more information about the Cullen College of Engineering, visit www.egr.uh.edu

For more information about NIJ, visit http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/

To receive UH science news via e-mail, visit www.uh.edu/admin/media/sciencelist.html

University of Houston

Related Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity

Next frontier in bacterial engineering
A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.

COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.

Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.

Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.

New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.

Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.

Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.

Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.

Read More: Engineering News and Engineering Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.