Austin high school students get funding for flood sensors that could save lives

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two Austin area high schoolers have secured funding for their ‘Hydro-Alert’ concept, an innovative flood sensor that aims to help first responders save lives.

Laya Yalamanchili who attends LC Anderson High School and Satvik Dasari, a student at Westwood High School, pitched their idea to General Motors executives as part of the Changemaking Challenge.

The device uses ultrasonic sensors to measure how far the water is from the road. The data is then uploaded to the HydroAlert app every 15 seconds.

Lights on the device change color as water gets closer to the sensor and they let authorities know when to close the crossing. 

“We never fathomed that this solution we made as middle schoolers would get as far as deployment,” Yalamanchili said.

Current floodwarning systems cost about $30,000, Yalamanchili said, and so they’re only at certain crossings. Their system costs less than $50.

They deployed their first prototype on Bull Creek Crossing on Lakewood Drive in Austin on March 17, and they showed the system was reliable and durable.

With the funding from GM, they hope to roll out “Hydro-Alert” in Hays County and at other low water crossings across Central Texas. 

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