Squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and deer all have given motorists a fright by darting in front of oncoming vehicles.

A student robotics team from Dublin City Schools and Olentangy Schools found a way to help prevent such accidents.

The seven-student team -- known as the Binary Bros -- carried out a project on safety systems in cars to alert drivers of a moving or still animal about to collide with their cars, said the team's coach, Rajiv Singhal.

The team presented the idea to the city of Dublin and Honda R&D Americas Inc.

"This will save lives and millions of dollars in vehicle damage," Singhal said.

Binary Bros will compete in the FIRST Lego League Ohio Championship Saturday, Feb. 1, and Sunday, Feb. 2, at Wright State University with their project, as well as a robot they built for competition.

Druvin Mutalam, a 12-year-old sixth-grader from Olentangy Shanahan Middle School, said the team was tasked with researching problems that affected their city and it landed on topics including traffic and drone safety.

After learning of the large number of deaths that occur annually from animal-vehicle collisions and a lack of solutions to help prevent them, they decided to come up with a system to avoid crashes, Druvin said.

The team began by reading newspapers and government articles, said Surya Kolluri, a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Dublin's Willard Grizzell Middle School.

They worked with Anish Arora, a computer science and engineering professor at Ohio State University, who introduced the concept of using LIDARs, a device that works like radar, but with light.

The team also sought help from Manu Singhal, an artificial-intelligence researcher at the University of California's Berkeley campus, Kolluri said. He taught them about neural networks, a type of computer that's trained to recognize patterns.

"We eventually ended up using this in our project," Surya said.

The team shared its solution with Dublin staff members, who gave them data for their project, Surya said. The manager of vehicle safety at Honda R&D also gave them information and feedback.

City staff members were able to show the students how they recorded where crashes had occurred, said Aditya Varma Sangu, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Olentangy's Heritage Elementary School.

Honda R&D engineers told them which cars have some animal detection capabilities.

"Both (the) city of Dublin and Honda R&D liked our project idea and appreciated the research done by our team," Aditya said.

SaiAaryan Iragamreddy, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from Olentangy's Shanahan Middle School, said he and his team used a neural network system to communicate with sensors once an animal has been detected. The system can alert the driver audibly or visually.

The most challenging part of the project, said Saketh Thotapall, a 9-year-old fourth-grader from Olentangy's Heritage Elementary School, was figuring out how to coordinate the three sensors to detect an animal in front of the vehicle.

The team also built a robot for competition, designed to complete missions for points, said Praneeth Kalidindi, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Heritage. The robot is able to hold certain attachments to complete the missions.

Instead of controlling the robot with a remote, the team created a program with specific distances the robot should travel to complete the missions, Praneeth said.

During games, teams' robots complete as many missions as they can in 2 1/2 minutes, said Nikhil Sen, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Dublin's Albert Chapman Elementary School.

"If you touch the robot during the run, then you lose points," he said.

The team's mentor, Ria Singhal, who is Rajiv Singhal's daughter, said the Lego league is a transformative program for children, teaching them new technical and soft skills, programming, researching, teamwork and collaboration.

"I know the kids have been working very hard to make it to the state championship, and I am so excited to see them compete," she said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah