GM Pedestrian Alert Detects Smartphone Signals

GM Pedestrian Alert Detects Smartphone Signals

Wifi Direct allows some smartphones to communicate without cell phone towers, but thanks to new research by GM it might also keep pedestrians and cyclists safe.

By pairing the technology with in-car sensors, GM is developing a system to alert drivers of pedestrian whereabouts in poor visibility conditions.

“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,” GM research and development exec Nady Boules said.

The automaker plans to offer a free app that “frequent road users” like bike messengers construction workers could download as a safety measure.

“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,” Boules said.

But anyone who has tried to pair wireless devices in the past knows how slow it can be. Given that, it seems like any safety advantage would be meaningless, but Donald Grimm, a GM senior researcher, says “Wi-Fi Direct’s fast connections offer a distinct advantage in vehicle applications.”

In fact, connecting through Wifi Direct takes about a second because it doesn’t rely on a wireless tower.