The GiraffeG4 Sentinel System, a two-part system featuring a Tracking App and a User App, is designed to alert drivers to low-clearance obstacles.  -  Photo: Giraffe G4 LLC

The GiraffeG4 Sentinel System, a two-part system featuring a Tracking App and a User App, is designed to alert drivers to low-clearance obstacles.

Photo: Giraffe G4 LLC

The original GiraffeG4 low-clearance alert system has been upgraded to the GiraffeG4 Sentinel System, a two-part system featuring a Tracking App and a User App.

Giraffe G4 LLC said drivers wanted the GiraffeG4 to warn them of a potential low-clearance hazard before they reached it. The company said fleets wanted to keep driver distraction to a minimum, so the fleet telematics screen had to be the hub for driver information.

Upgraded System

Using GiraffeG4's original weatherproof sound wave system for measuring clearance height, the new GiraffeG4 Sentinel was redesigned as a two-part system.

The Tracking App can pre-measure and GPS locate any potential low-clearance hazard, whether it's a bridge, trestle, parking garage, or tree, according to the company. That information is downloaded onto a database.

Starting the following day, the User App uses that recorded height and GPS data to alert a driver with an alarm and height sign, 200 yards before they reach the hazard ahead.

Integrating with Fleet Telematics

The company said its GiraffeG4 Sentinel System has been built to integrate smoothly into any fleet telematics system.

The GiraffeG4 Sentinel System, according to the company, is not a navigation tool. It is a safety tool that follows underneath the route the driver is on and provides an audible warning to a distracted, tired, or lost driver.

The GiraffeG4 Sentinel staff, the company said, has already pre-measured and GPS located all the potential low-clearance hazards in New York City; New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Connecticut, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Plus, the Sentinel User App has an audible alarm at the entrance to every parkway in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts where commercial vehicles are prohibited.

Original Idea

The original idea for the GiraffeG4 System came about when Frank Nugent saw a film crew measuring the distance to the ceiling with a laser to learn how much rope was needed to hang some curtains.

After college and before working in the film business as a production manager, Nugent drove a tractor-trailer for A&P Supermarkets delivering groceries all around New York City. He became familiar with the low-clearance hazards that subway trestles provided — the hard way. He hit one with his trailer.

Nugent enlisted his son to help develop the GiraffeG4 System. Neither was trained as electrical, mechanical, or sound engineers, so, they hired freelance engineers and did all the on-the-street testing themselves under the subway trestles and tunnels around New York City.

Measuring Methods

Laser measuring was the first attempt, the company said, but it wouldn't work outdoors in sunlight.

Insead, they turned to sound waves. Weatherproof and hardy, a sensor could send a signal up and back to a subway steel beam. Timing that trip could tell them the exact height of the low-clearance hazard.

Eighteen months and three U.S. patents later, according to the company, the GiraffeG4 System was ready to go. It was marketed to truckers and recreational vehicle drivers. Drivers could pull the tow vehicle up to the low-clearance hazard, measure it, and continue to measure as they travel under the hazard.

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