Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery


The airbag enablement system in today’s automobiles is not ideal and may allow airbags to deploy when they should not. Weight sensors detect pressure when someone sits in a passenger seat, enabling the airbag to deploy if an accident occurs. This system is flawed. For example, if a heavy box is placed in a passenger seat, the airbag will be unnecessarily enabled. The goal of this research project was to determine if different sensors—not weight sensors or cameras—could be used to identify the occupant of an automobile seat.

Using a microchip programmed in C language, a circuit was designed with three sensors: ultrasonic range, passive infrared, and temperature. The temperature sensor was placed on an automobile seat to detect heat from occupant of the chair. The passive infrared sensor was positioned in front and above the seat to detect heat movement, and in order to detect the height of the occupant, the ultrasonic sensor was placed above the seat.

The sensors can conclusively determine whether the occupant is living or inanimate. The sensors cannot always determine if the occupant is specifically human or the age of the human.


Honors Capstone Project completed in 2014 for Olivet Nazarene University.

Kee Appendix D - Experimental Data (1230 kB)
Experimental Data