'Digital seatbelt' app protects pedestrians from connected vehicles

July 07, 2020 //By Rich Pell
'Digital seatbelt' app protects pedestrians from connected vehicles
Berkeley-based AI-powered safety technology startup !important Safety Technologies has announced a free mobile app designed to protect pedestrians from connected vehicles.

Functioning as a "digital safety belt," the app communicates a user's location to nearby connected vehicles. The technology can immediately alert drivers and even trigger vehicles' brakes automatically to prevent a collision with an approaching person, bicyclist, or motorcyclist.

Offered as the first pedestrian-based technology, the app is designed to work in 20 common scenarios - involving driver responsibility (35%), visual blockage (28%), unpredictable pedestrian behavior (26%), and weather conditions (11%) - that account for pedestrian deaths, and could save a million lives over the next decade. While existing vehicle-based sensors such as cameras, radar, sonar, and lidar address the first category, says the company, the remaining categories are left unsolved by current technologies.

"This solves the remaining 65% of death cases," says Bastien Beauchamp, inventor & CEO of !important. "We hope it will become a regulation for the automotive industry."

The app, says the company, creates a virtual "Protection Zone" around each individual via their mobile device by communicating a user's (anonymized) GPS location coordinates to all nearby certified automated vehicles. The app's data augments the vehicle's sensor input to ensure the pedestrian is recognized and tracked to prevent any collisions.

On the !important app download page , the company recommends certain phones for their GPS accuracy. While the app is available for both iOS and Android devices, the company says, "As of right now, iPhones models cannot unfortunately be recommended due to lack of GPS accuracy."

In early 2021, the technology will be implemented in vehicles on the roads of Reno, Nevada as part of the Intelligent Mobility initiative in collaboration with the Nevada Center for Applied Research (NCAR) at the University of Nevada in Reno.

!Important Safety Technologies

Related articles:
Ford looks at communication between autonomous vehicles and humans
How JLR takes away pedestrians' fear of robot vehicles
Cohda Wireless trials vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) technology on city streets


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