Chicago-based startup HAAS Alert has been awarded US$1.1m from the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate for the development of Cellular V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) road safety solutions for emergency vehicles and the automotive market.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records about 60,000 emergency vehicle collisions a year, and the National Fire Protection Association has reported that 20% of firefighter deaths over the last decade have occurred on route to or from a call. HAAS Alert will use the DHS funding to advance consumer vehicle safety systems using cellular technology that would allow approaching emergency response vehicles to warn other first responders and civilian vehicles on the road. The contract will allow HAAS Alert to make use of input from active and retired first responders from across the country by engaging the S&T First Responder Resource Group (FRRG). By working with the FRRG, HAAS Alert will have the opportunity to ensure the top-priority needs of the first responder community are met during product development.
The announcement comes as auto makers have begun to favor Cellular V2X communication protocols over those offered by the DSRC (Dedicated Short-Range Communication) system. HAAS Alert provides collision prevention technologies and products to first responders and other municipal fleets, with its proprietary system already in use by about 50 cities across the USA. The service streams real-time safety messages to drivers and connected cars via in-vehicle systems and smartphone apps when emergency vehicles are approaching and on-scene.
“Collisions between first responders and civilian motorists are at an all-time high and the situation is worsening,” explained Cory Hohs, CEO of HAAS Alert. “This partnership with DHS S&T and the FRRG gives us the opportunity to further develop our Cellular V2X technology and bring advanced vehicle safety solutions to US roads, communities and automotive markets more quickly.”
HAAS Alert’s chief operating officer, Noah Levens, said, “The contract gives us 12 to 18 months to develop new hardware, namely a mobile advanced warning device (AWD) for responder-to-vehicle communication, and retool our existing software. A 2014 study by the University of Minnesota shows that AWDs reduce the odds of a crash by 60 to 90%. Just having your windows up and doing another action, most of the time it’s a phone, can take the alert radius down from 1,400 feet to 200 feet, which means the average person has about four seconds to respond. Four seconds to respond to a fire truck barreling down the road at 50mph blowing an intersection, that’s the problem. We expect the new alert system will reach people through in-dash connections in newer vehicles, the navigation apps on their phones, and also through wireless emergency alerts and the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, which will also issue messages to other responders in the area.”