General Motors developing wireless pedestrian detection technology

Written by: Laura Hopperton | Published:
General Motors developing wireless pedestrian detection technology
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General Motors has begun working on a new driver assistance technology that could provide advance warning about pedestrians and bicyclists on congested streets or in poor visibility conditions.

The feature relies on Wi-Fi Direct, a peer-to-peer wireless standard that allows devices like smartphones to communicate directly with each other rather than through a shared access point like a mobile phone tower.

The automaker is 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.

"This new wireless capability could warn drivers about pedestrians who might be stepping into the roadway from behind a parked vehicle, or bicyclists who are riding in the car's blind spot," said Nady Boules, R&D director of GM's Electrical and Control Systems Research Lab. "Wi-Fi Direct has the potential to become an integral part of the comprehensive driver assistance systems we offer on many of our Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicles."

By eliminating the intermediate step required to reach a mobile phone tower, Wi-Fi Direct allows devices to connect in approximately one second compared to conventional wireless systems which typically need seven or eight seconds to acquire location information and connect.

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

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