German automotive systems developer Bosch is accelerating the roll-out of its cloud-based wrong-way driver alert system that is already deployed in 13 European countries.
The danger of encountering a wrong-way driver on freeways is not as uncommon as many might think. In Germany alone, traffic news channels broadcast roughly five wrong-way driver alerts each day, or nearly 2,000 each year. Nearly one-third of such incidents end after the wrong-way driver has traveled only 1,650ft (500m), often with fatal consequences. With a few thousand lines of software code, Bosch’s cloud-based wrong-way driver alert system, which is centered on a smartphone app, can save lives.
To detect whether a car is joining the freeway in the wrong direction, the cloud-based function compares the vehicle’s actual movements with information on the permitted direction of travel that is stored in a database. The driver simply has to have the app open in the background for this to work.
Any driver who mistakes an off ramp for an on ramp is alerted by push notification. At the same time, oncoming cars in the vicinity are alerted to the danger. The more connected vehicles there are, the closer-knit the invisible safety net will become, further enhancing the effectiveness of wrong-way driver warnings.
Bosch will use a new software module to integrate the wrong-way driver alert system – the only one of its kind worldwide – directly into future vehicles’ infotainment systems. The dash display will then give the driver a heads-up within just a few seconds. Bosch is talking to many auto makers that want to offer the alert system as a standard feature.
The service is currently sending out push notifications in 13 European countries. Initially integrated into the radio apps of the German broadcasters Antenne Bayern and Rock Antenne in early 2018, the wrong-way driver alert already has 400,000 unique users and is primed for more. Some 15 navigation, streaming and radio apps now feature the app function, with the service able to reach several million people in Europe.
Growing ranks of navigation services, radio stations and news portals are integrating Bosch’s wrong-way driver alert into their apps. With eight million downloads and a million monthly active users on average, the Karta GPS navigation app marketed by the Portuguese startup NDrive is one of the world’s most popular cellphone apps of its kind, with users in 140 countries now getting wrong-way alerts.
The radio and streaming app provided by bigFM, which has more than half a million unique users, has featured Bosch’s app function since January 2019. Radioplayer.de, radio FFN, radio rainbow, rainbow 2, radio RPR, TCS, BikerSOS, and many others are offering this service to their app users, with others due to join, including the makers of the Focus Online, Calimoto, and V-Navi smartphone apps.
“No more road fatalities because of wrong-way drivers; that is our goal,” said Dr Markus Heyn, member of Bosch’s management board. “We want to roll out the wrong-way driver alert across the board. Every road fatality is one too many.”