Modern cars rely on some fairly advanced technology to “see” their surroundings. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection are just a few designed to reduce collisions and save lives, but Ford wants to go one step further. The Dearborn-based automaker has announced it is exploring smartphone-based technology designed to uncover pedestrians hidden from vehicle view.
Camera and radar systems require line of sight detection, meaning that people, cyclists and others who are not visible from view cannot be detected. Ford wants to change that with a new smartphone-based communication technology that allows Ford vehicles to detect such people via Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Blue Oval did not undertake this effort alone, partnering with Ohio State University, T-Mobile, Tome Software, Commsignia, and PSS to research its feasibility.
BLE will enable Ford vehicles to differentiate between pedestrians and cyclists, leading to increased traffic deaths by 2021. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that by 2020 there will be 104,000 pedestrian emergency room visits treated for non-fatal accident-related accidents. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, cyclists’ deaths increased to about 1,000 last year.
“We are now looking for ways to extend vehicle sensing capabilities, to areas where drivers cannot see, to help people drive more confidently on roads that are increasingly being traveled by others on their two- or two-legged wheels,” said Jim Buczkowski, director Ford research and research executive. advanced engineering.
Ford, a founding member of the Consortium for the Safety of Vulnerable Road Users, is already envisioning how to extend the technology beyond pedestrians and cyclists. This technology can help alert Ford vehicles to construction zones and construction workers.
BLE works by creating a wireless network around a person that can communicate with other BLE devices. Often such communication requires the installation of two devices, but Ford will use the technology as a beacon that doesn’t need it, allowing the vehicle to experience multiple BLE devices.
Ford didn’t say when it could implement this technology into its vehicles, as smartphone apps are a concept nowadays, but it’s not hard to imagine. The world continues to become more connected, and improvements in digital communication technology will advance it.