Student Rupesh Kumar from Jharkhand has developed Rakshak, an AI-enabled road safety app that provides timely assistance to road accident victims.
Two years ago, Rupesh Kumar’s friend lost his father in a road accident on a highway, after the ambulance was unable to reach the spot on time.
“If the ambulance services could have been informed early and arrived on time, he could have survived. Data suggests that about 30 percent of deaths are caused due to delayed ambulance services,” the Jharkhand resident tells The Better India.
The incident was the trigger for the 16-year-old to start working on solutions, and in 2021, his quest led him to innovate the application Rakshak Road Safety to get immediate medical help to road accident victims.
To protect lives
The latest government data shows a total of 4,12,432 road accidents were reported in the country in 2021, claiming the lives of 1,53,972 people. The worst affected age group in road accidents is 18-45 years, which accounts for about 67 percent of total accidental deaths.
Rupesh shares that his app has the potential to prevent such road accident deaths and save lives.
“It is a multipurpose road safety application and device, which is designed in a way that it notifies nearby hospitals’ emergency services, police stations, close friends of the victim, and the people within a 1 km radius of the accident. It gives them the exact location of the accident, as well as the details of the victim and his vehicle. Once people get notified, they can reach the victim for help,” he says.
For this, the app uses artificial intelligence and data driven from sensors (acceleration and retardation of the vehicle). “The app triggers this event as an accident and sends a notification to registered people who are in a range of the accident spot. It also messages people who are in the emergency contact list given by the user,” he adds.
The mobile application uses Google cloud services to get information about nearest hospitals and police stations, and informs them about the accident and vital information such as blood group and disabilities of the victim. Furthermore, the app also provides a first-aid guide to help the victim before professional medical help arrives.
Rupesh says that this app also promotes road safety rules and informs the traffic police, whenever users exceed the speed limit. This becomes significant given a majority (71.7 percent) of road accidents are caused due to over speeding.
The data also suggests that 1.6 percent of road accidents are caused by the use of cell phones while driving. “The app is also equipped with modules, which on the wish of the user do not allow phone calls to happen while driving,” he says.
Recognised by the Central Government
Currently studying in Class 10 at the Delhi Public School Bokaro, Rupesh has been fascinated by the world of computers and programming languages from a young age.
Earlier, he also developed a sign language translator that was designed to bridge the communication gap between persons with disability and those who do not understand sign language.
After developing the prototype of the Rakshak app, he received recognition for the 2023 INSPIRE Manak scholarship of Rs 10,000 from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. He used the scholarship amount to cover the cost of development and also invest in further research and development of the mobile app.
Currently, as part of the regulations of the competition, Rupesh is not allowed to make the app public. “However, the app has been evaluated and tested by the competition officials, and I have received positive feedback from them. The INSPIRE Manak provides full patent, funding, and support to make the app public once the competition is finalised,” he says.
Among those who have tested the app is his friend Aryan Kumar, who tested the app by intentionally simulating an accident scenario under safety and guidance. “The app worked as expected and provided a quick and accurate response. It correctly identified the accident and sent messages and calls to nearby hospitals and police stations,” he tells The Better India.
“Rakshak can have a significant impact on society by reducing the number of road accidents and providing timely assistance to victims. It can help reduce the response time, which is often a critical factor in saving lives,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Rupesh is looking forward to making the app widely accessible to as many people across the country. He aspires to work with car manufacturers in order to enhance the impact of the mobile app and help prevent road accidents in the country.
“My ultimate goal is to make a positive impact and contribute to the betterment of society in any way I can. Knowing that the app has the potential to prevent deaths caused by road accidents and save lives is a powerful motivator, and it gives me a sense of purpose and fulfilment,” he says.
(Edited by Divya Sethu; All photos courtesy: Rupesh Kumar)