The year is 2022. The cars have Bluetooth. The phones have Bluetooth. So, logically (?), Ford asks: can Bluetooth protect pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable non-motorized people from collisions with its vehicles?
The automaker is developing a phone app that would alert drivers to nearby cyclists, walkers or scooters using location alerts sent via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. Or at least drivers would be alerted to the presence of those using the app.
People who have downloaded the Ford-specific widget and are actively running it on their phones would appear as “beacons” to drivers equipped with Ford’s Sync infotainment system. If these app users are in the path of a vehicle and there is potential for an accident, drivers would then be alerted with graphics or sounds on the dashboard screen.
Ford plans to present its app for the first time at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s World Congress this week. The app would be used to support the company’s existing advanced driver assistance system, which can already intervene when a driver fails to react to obstacles in time.
“Newer Ford vehicles already equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360 technology can detect and help warn drivers of pedestrians, cyclists, scooter riders and others – and even apply the brakes if drivers don’t react in time,” said said Jim Buczkowski, a Ford executive, in a company Press release. “We are currently exploring ways to extend vehicle detection capability, for areas that drivers cannot see, to help people drive with even more confidence on roads increasingly shared by others. using their two feet or their two wheels.”
Automakers are increasingly investing in self-driving, autonomous or driver-assisted technologies. But cars with these features still crash and kill people.
Ford’s press release cites growing number traffic, cyclists and pedestrian fatalities as an impetus for the development of the application. Note: One of the main factors contributing to the increase in the number of deaths is the popularity of SUVs and big trucks, which Ford sells more than in the United States than any other automaker.
However, as a report of Engadget first pointed out that it’s hard to imagine that something like Ford’s app can solve the problem of increasing pedestrian fatalities. How many people will be willing to download another geolocation application, for a purpose that could and should be better supported by policy and infrastructure changes?