Posts Tagged ‘ GPS ’

Government Will Pay for GPS Devices for Autistic Kids

Friday, January 31st, 2014

The U.S. Justice Department has agreed to fund a program that would provide voluntary GPS tracking devices to children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The hope of the program, and legislation sponsored by New York Senator Charles Schumer, is the prevention of incidents in which autistic kids wander away from caregivers and are unable to communicate their way back to safety.

Schumer told The New York Times that the voluntary-use GPS tracking devices, which cost about $85 each plus small monthly fees, will be like those used to track people suffering from Alzheimer’s. The Justice Department already provides grants to help pay for Alzheimer’s patients’ devices.

More from NY1 News:

It comes on the heels of the disappearance and death of Avonte Oquendo.

The 14-year-old, who suffered from autism, exited his school in October.

His remains were found in the East River earlier this month.

Schumer pushed for legislation to provide GPS tracking devices for children with autism and other conditions, in which they tend to wander off from caregivers or parents.

The Justice Department has agreed to use grant funds to pay for the voluntary devices.

The news comes as new video surfaces of Avonte leaving his Long Island City school through a door that had been left ajar by someone exiting the school.

According to the Oquendo family attorney, it was left open for about a half hour before being closed by a school safety agent.

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Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism

Image: School door, via Shutterstock

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Dad’s Flying Drone Gives New Meaning to ‘Helicopter Parenting’

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

A Vermont father, Paul Wallich, has devised an innovative, if controversial, way to fulfill his duty to accompany his son during the quarter-mile walk. More from NBC News:

“It’s those Vermont winters that provided motivation for the project. ”If I am walking my kid to the bus stop in December and January, I would really rather not be doing that,” Wallich told NBC News.

The drone is a quadcopter that he built from store-bought parts. He strapped on a smartphone with a video-chat app so that he could watch his son from the comfort of his warm home.

The trick was to get the drone to follow his son. After exploring a few possibilities, Wallich put a GPS beacon in his son’s backpack, and employed navigation software that tells the drone to stay an arbitrary distance from the beacon.

It worked … up to a point.

“Vermont, as it turns out, is a really bad place for doing this kind of thing because you have hills and you have trees,” Wallich said. “Hills mean that the altitude control gets a lot more complicated and trees mean you have to do obstacle avoidance.

“If my kid is walking along the road and there is a branch overhanging the road, the quadcopter will gleefully run smack into it.”

There are potential fixes, such as sonar for collision control. By flying the quadcopter closer to his son — about 15 feet off the ground — he could program it to maintain altitude with respect to the ground instead of following GPS coordinates.”

Drone photo by Paul Wallich, via NBC News

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