General Motors researchers are developing a promising driver assistance feature potentially capable of detecting pedestrians and bicyclists on congested streets or in poor visibility conditions.
The feature relies on Wi-Fi Direct, the peer-to-peer wireless standard that allows devices like some smartphones to communicate directly with each other rather than through a shared access point like a cell phone tower.
GM researchers have determined Wi-Fi Direct can be integrated with other sensor-based object detection and driver alert systems already available on production vehicles to help detect pedestrians and bicyclists carrying smartphones equipped with Wi-Fi Direct.
The automaker also is looking to develop a complementary app for Wi-Fi Direct-capable smartphones that can be downloaded by frequent road users such as bike messengers or construction workers that will help Wi-Fi Direct-equipped vehicles identify them.
Wireless pedestrian detection is part of GM’s ongoing development of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems that could provide advance warning about hazards such as slowed or stalled vehicles, slippery roads or intersections and stop signs.
By eliminating the intermediate step required to reach a cell phone tower, Wi-Fi Direct allows devices to connect in approximately one second compared to conventional wireless systems that typically need seven or eight seconds to acquire location information and connect.