Social Distancing Radar

Arduino Guy, an 18-year-old Hackster intern and self-proclaimed embedded systems enthusiast, has developed a DIY social distancing radar

It can be attached to a bicycle or other anchor point to alert others when they are cycling, standing, or walking too close.

The project uses a Teensy 4.0 in combination with a SparkFun VL53L1X time of flight  sensor attached to a SG90 servo arm to register obstructions at distances between 40mm and 4 meters away. In his project which is documented with step-by-step instructions, 3D print files, and code suitable for advanced beginners, four LED dot matrix displays are programmed to send the message “U Good” when people are giving enough space or “Back Off” when they are too close to the sensor.

In a Hackster tutorial, Arduino Guy walks us through the project from hardware selection to modeling and previsualizing the moving mount in Fusion360. He also explains how a time of flight or ToF sensor, which uses pulses of light to register how far away something is, can be superior to other options like ultrasonic sensors which measure sound and are therefor slower and less accurate. Like all good engineers, he tests its effectiveness in the field during a bicycle journey and finds that people do, in fact, keep their distance.