In recent years, automakers have devised a number of new technologies designed to help drivers avoid collisions with other vehicles. Now Honda Motor Company says it has developed a system to warn pedestrians of potential dangers from approaching vehicles, and to alert drivers of impending hazards that can’t be picked up by the lasers, radar and other types of sensors currently in use.
Honda America vice president of product planning and logistics Art St. Cyr says, “The sensors we have now are for the immediate surroundings.” He says the new technologies under development by Honda, “are looking past that, two or three cars up ahead or what you can’t see around the corner.”
General Motors Company is also working to develop a similar system. Like the one being developed by Nissan, it too relies on wireless communications to alert drivers and pedestrians of potential hazards.
More and more automakers are developing their own “active safety features” including radar sensors and cameras, but these systems are typically only available on high-end models. Honda North America’s chief engineer for research and development Jim Keller says the company’s new wireless technology, “Would be a fraction of the cost of one sensor.”
The new system uses a smart phone’s GPS to alert the driver of approaching pedestrians, including information about their exact location, and the direction and speed at which they’re walking. Additional data includes whether or not the pedestrian may be distracted by texting, being on a call or listening to music on their phone.
The system uses all this information to calculate the risk of a collision. If the risk is determined to be sufficiently high to warrant intervention, the vehicle alerts the driver to the danger by sounding an alarm or flashing a warning light. The system will simultaneously alert the pedestrian by sending a warning sound that simulates a car horn to his cell phone.
Honda has not indicated how soon the new technology might be available to the public.