Honda demonstrated a new safety feature recently that harnesses the power of the smartphone to see pedestrians where a driver and existing camera sensors may not.
The feature uses dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology to detect the smartphones, which commonly use the same technology. If a pedestrian or cyclist who has a smartphone enters the car’s path, the system flashes a warning on a dash-mounted screen, similar to today’s driver warning systems. The difference is this system will see a pedestrian who is normally out of view—walking around a corner, between cars, or behind a building. Honda is also working on a way to use the same technology to detect motorcyclists.
Pedestrians could potentially download an application that would warn them of oncoming cars. Honda is working with mobile technology company Qualcomm on the modifications needed for smartphones to work with the system.
Honda’s chief engineer of advanced technology research, Jim Keller, said “The system that might be an app one day on a smartphone is capable of interrupting someone who is texting, listening to music or even in the middle of a phone call to give them audible and visual warnings to stop walking or that a vehicle is backing up. Drivers are warned through a head-up display that a pedestrian is near.” He added the technology worked through a special licensed radio band that allows cars to send and receive messages from surrounding vehicles.
“The advantage of dedicated short-range communications is it can see much farther than radar, up to 500m. It covers 360 degrees you and it’s also able to sense vehicles that are obscured from vision,” said Keller. He added, “A similar system using dedicated short range communication works to notify drivers that a motorcycle is near, even if the driver can’t see it.”
He also added that “Connected vehicle technology could be on the road by 2020, but whether a system like Honda’s makes it into new cars will depend on rules the federal government sets around vehicle-to-vehicle communication and whether the technology Honda is using is part of the rules. The communications system also would have to be adopted by cellphone makers.”
“While these are still experimental technologies, they provide a strong indication of the future potential for the kinds of advanced collision sensing and predictive technologies Honda is developing to further reduce the potential for serious accidents, injuries and even fatalities,” said Keller.y would be much cheaper than implementing cameras and other safety systems equipped on vehicles today. “This is a fraction of the cost of one sensor,” he added.
Honda is one of eight automakers involved in a federal vehicle-to-vehicle communication study taking place around Ann Arbor funded by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The study, which began a year ago, has been extended six months and includes General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Hyundai and Nissan along with Honda.