General Motors (GM) has announced that its researchers are developing a promising driver assistance feature, which is potentially capable of detecting pedestrians and bicyclists on congested streets or in poor visibility conditions, before the driver notices them. The new system relies on ‘Wi-Fi Direct’, which is the peer-to-peer wireless standard that allows connected devices, such as some smart phones, to communicate directly with each other, rather than through a shared access point or a cell phone tower. The company’s researchers have determined that Wi-Fi Direct can be integrated with other sensor-based object detection and driver alert systems, which are already available on production vehicles, to help detect pedestrians and bicyclists carrying Wi-Fi Direct- equipped smart phones. GM is also is looking to develop a complementary app for Wi-Fi Direct-capable smart phones that can be downloaded by frequent road users, such as ‘bike messenger’ or ‘construction worker’, which will help Wi-Fi Direct-equipped vehicles identify them by type.
The Wi-Fi Alliance, the global industry association in charge of certifying wireless standards, claims Wi-Fi Direct devices can reach each other at a maximum distance of 200m (656ft). By eliminating the intermediate step required to reach a cell phone tower, Wi-Fi Direct allows devices to connect in approximately one second, compared to conventional wireless systems that typically need seven or eight seconds to acquire location information and connect. Nady Boules, GM’s global R&D director of the electrical and control systems research lab, noted, “This new wireless capability could warn drivers about pedestrians who might be stepping into the roadway from behind a parked vehicle, or bicyclists who are riding in the car’s blind spot. Wi-Fi Direct has the potential to become an integral part of the comprehensive driver assistance systems that we offer on many of our vehicles.” The wireless pedestrian detection system is part of the company’s ongoing development of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems, which also form part of the USDOT’s ‘Connected Vehicles’ research programs.
30 July 2012
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