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Home > Topics > Technology

New device will clear traffic for first responders

The electronic box will turn lights green for approaching emergency vehicles, and even create an "ambulance corridor" to an area hospital

By Bob Caylor
The News-Sentinel

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The boldly named “Eliminator” makes a big promise for an electronic box about the size of a package of index cards. This device, made by a small Fort Wayne company, is supposed to unravel the traffic tangles that can ensnare emergency vehicles at stoplights.

Trials of the first-generation Eliminator in St. Louis and Indianapolis have been successful enough that the company is working with Indianapolis to use the second generation of the device to create what it calls an “ambulance corridor” near Riley Children's Hospital, said Dave Gross, president and chief executive officer of Collision Control Communications Inc.

The Eliminator works like this: Transmitters and receivers in traffic signals and in emergency vehicles use frequency-hopping FM radio signals so that receivers in traffic lights and ambulances can track their locations relative to one another.

As an ambulance on an critical run approaches a traffic signal, the system is designed to turn the traffic light green for the approaching ambulance but red in all other directions. That not only clears the path for the ambulance, but also keeps other vehicles headed in the same direction on the same street moving along, so that an ambulance driver doesn't need to inch around stopped or slowed vehicles in his or her path.

Gross said he started working on the Eliminator in 1997, after he saw an ambulance that couldn't get through a crowded intersection near Glenbrook Square. His role in developing the devices was mainly perfecting the equations the units use to calculate the direction of approach of emergency vehicles to traffic signals.

He has a boost from state government now, too. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has approved Collision Control as a qualified Indiana business under the venture capital investment tax credit program, said IEDC spokeswoman Katelyn Hancock. Even small investors -- he's selling stock for $20 a share -- should be able to qualify for a 20 percent tax credit on their investments in Collision Control.

In the course of nurturing this idea, he's drawn on engineering, legal, software and computer-science expertise in northeast Indiana. In turn, he's cut in those who helped develop the Eliminator for shares of its profits, provided it ever makes a profit.

“I wanted to deal with people who were close by so that I knew I could count on them. It saved me probably three-quarters of a million dollars in (research and development) costs,” Gross said.

Gross, better known around Fort Wayne as “Dr. Dave” on radio station WLDE, 101.7-FM, now fills in on some shifts on Fun 101.7, but he's mainly devoted to making the Eliminator a success.

To measure that success, he has a simple yardstick: “When I actually accomplish selling it to a major city.”

He has a fresh hope for that win, nearly halfway around the world. He's negotiating with officials in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Why should those negotiations be promising? A police force in which officers pilot Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini patrol cars has a proven willingness to spend money on equipment.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Gross said Collision Control plans to manufacture the “Eliminator” at Bowmar in Fort Wayne.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Steven Cohen Steven Cohen Tuesday, March 04, 2014 3:25:59 PM I wish the company well. We have been using a preemption device for 12 years to helps us get through the traffic tangles.
Yoni Celnik Yoni Celnik Tuesday, March 04, 2014 4:05:03 PM besides for how it transmits im not sure how its different than the opticom system or why any agency would use this one over the existing opticom systems most citys have in place
Michael Smith Michael Smith Tuesday, March 04, 2014 5:21:24 PM How would I purchase stock in this company?
Peter Ruggeri Peter Ruggeri Tuesday, March 04, 2014 5:33:00 PM It's a lot different. Read the article again. Opticon simply detects the ambulance and it only has a one or two block range. This technology could plot the ambulances entire route and open traffic ahead of it
Peter Ruggeri Peter Ruggeri Tuesday, March 04, 2014 5:33:51 PM Opticon has to have clear site lines to the detector as well. This does not
Dave Gross Dave Gross Wednesday, March 05, 2014 8:13:50 PM Go to the company's website:, click on the button that says "Contact Us", and leave your info there. Also some informative videos on the home page of this website showing the advantages over Opticom and other preemption systems.
Dave Gross Dave Gross Wednesday, March 05, 2014 8:21:27 PM How it transmits (using FHSS FM radio) is what allows it to overcome the limitations of Opticom. It is not line of sight, and therefore not susceptible to visual obstructions (if you're behind a bus, a truck or semi, around curves in the roadway, or even on a foggy day). It also can work at extremely long distances if desired (Opticom infrared can only work at a maximum of a couple of thousand feet under ideal conditions). This system also has a collision avoidance feature which no other preemption systems have. It warns drivers of impending collisions with other similarly equipped emergency vehicles up to a mile before they occur, even at intersections where there is no traffic signal to resolve the conflict. More info is available at: Stay safe!
Dave Gross Dave Gross Thursday, March 06, 2014 7:27:32 AM Rob: It preempts through a more reliable method than opticom, and is not limited by line of sight. It also works at a greater distance. Plus it has a "collision avoidance" feature that opticom doesn't have: If you're about to have a collision with another EV that is similarly equipped, it warns you of impending collisions before they occur, and shows what direction the collision will be coming from at the upcoming intersection. This is true even if there is no traffic signal at that intersection. It is also less susceptible to being hacked (opticom is just a 14 Hz infrared strobe, and you can build a "pirate" opticom transmitter from parts you can get at Radio Shack). I read a newspaper article where a guy did that in Longmont Colorado, and used it daily in his pickup truck to get to work faster.

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