Wireless system enhances road safety on congested streets

A new driver assistance feature could allow the detection of pedestrians and cyclists on congested streets or in poor visibility conditions before the driver notices them.

Developed by General Motors (GM) researchers, the system relies on a wireless link between the driver’s dashboard and the smartphones of cyclists.

It would hinge partly on Wi-Fi Direct, the peer-to-peer wireless standard that allows devices such as smartphones to communicate directly with each other rather than through a shared access point.

The researchers have determined that Wi-Fi Direct can be integrated with other sensor-based object detection and driver alert systems already available on production vehicles.

They are also looking to develop a complementary app for Wi-Fi Direct-capable smartphones that can be downloaded by frequent road users that will help Wi-Fi Direct-equipped vehicles identify them.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, the global industry association in charge of certifying wireless standards, claims that Wi-Fi Direct devices can reach each other at a maximum distance of 200m. In addition to aiding pedestrian detection, this range could enable secure transfers of files such as MP3s or digital address book information between a home computer and the user’s Wi-Fi Direct-equipped vehicle infotainment or navigation system.

‘Wi-Fi Direct’s fast connections offer a distinct advantage in vehicle applications,’ said Donald Grimm, GM Global R&D senior researcher of perception and vehicle control systems. ‘The quicker a vehicle can detect other Wi-Fi Direct users, the greater the potential for collision avoidance.’