What weighs on a buyer’s mind when purchasing a new vehicle? Safety and technology may be two of the top factors. General Motors offers many innovative features in this arena and whether it’s a rearview camera, StabiliTrak, or OnStar, drivers can feel at ease knowing their vehicle can help them to avoid potential accidents. Vehicle connectivity is quickly becoming another selling point for buyers and GM researchers are looking at ways to safely connect a vehicle to the rest of the world.
GM is looking to add to its already robust comprehensive driver assistance systems with a developing technology called wireless pedestrian detection. It’s a feature potentially capable of detecting pedestrians and bicyclists on congested streets or in poor visibility conditions when the driver may not notice them.
The feature relies on Wi-Fi Direct, a peer-to-peer wireless standard that allows some smartphones to communicate directly with each other rather than through a shared access point like a cell phone tower. GM researchers have determined Wi-Fi Direct can be integrated with other sensor-based object detection and driver alert systems already available on production vehicles to help detect pedestrians, bicyclists, and construction workers carrying smartphones equipped with Wi-Fi Direct.
By eliminating the extra step required to reach a cell phone tower, Wi-Fi Direct allows devices to connect in approximately one second versus seven or eight seconds.
Wireless pedestrian detection is part of GM’s ongoing development of vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems to provide advance warning about hazards such as slowed or stalled vehicles, slippery roads or intersections and stop signs.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,280 pedestrians and 618 bicyclists lost their lives in collisions with motor vehicles in 2010. GM’s potential use of Wi-Fi Direct is just one way the automaker is working toward further reducing the number of traffic fatalities.
“As we become a more connected society, having a self-aware connected car will be increasingly important,” said Thilo Koslowski, vice president of automotive industry analysis at Gartner Inc., a leading information technology research and advisory company. In addition, use of Wi-Fi Direct technology in vehicles could lead to better traffic management and fewer accidents, Koslowski added.