Last week, a General Motors news release indicated the company has been working on a pedestrian avoidance system for its cars that uses a location reporting feature of smartphones. As envisioned, cars of the future will be able to detect a smartphone's Wi-Fi Direct signal, and then issue warnings if that smartphone (and user) is anticipated to be on a collision course with the car. Since the Wi-Fi Direct signal is not dependent on the Internet, and is instead akin to a peer-to-peer network, the system will be active whenever two Wi-Fi Direct enabled systems are in near vicinity. Efforts are currently underway to determine how to filter out nuisance signals such as those that would be generated by a bicycle messenger weaving in and out of traffic. To learn more, click on the links below (both include an informative 1:22 video):
Walking With a Smartphone Could Actually Keep You Safe From Cars (gigaom.com, July 27, 2012)
GM Press Release (July 26, 2012)
Comment: Location, location, location. In the future, those three words won't just be about what makes real estate valuable - they will permeate everything we do. In this case, the public safety community on the ground will be seeing the benefit of a lesson learned long ago by the aviation safety community in the skies. Ask any airline pilot who has been around for more than twenty years what the single greatest enhancement in aviation safety has been during his/her career, and almost to a person the answer will be TCAS, or Traffic Collision Avoidance System technology - an on board aircraft system that uses the beacon signals from nearby aircraft to ensure separation is maintained at all times. So effectively, GM is taking a concept that has proven highly effective in three dimensional space, and is working to create that same level of safety in two dimensional space. Kudos for them!
Lead graphic: General Motors