Pedestrian collision? There's an app for that

CIO | Jul 27, 2015

A safety system that ties cars and smartphones together to stop those heart-stopping near misses between cars and pedestrians is being developed by Honda and could be standardized by the end of this year.

An inattentive pedestrian and this car are about to collide. A new technology stops it.


A car cruising for a parking space narrowly avoids colliding with a pedestrian. This wasn’t by chance. A new safety system being developed by Honda connects the car with the pedestrian’s smartphone to avoid the accident.

It’s called DSRC.

In this demonstration at Honda’s R&D center in Silicon Valley, the pedestrian’s phone broadcasts his location, heading and that he’s listening to music and not paying attention. An algorithm in the car calculates if a collision is possible and then alerts both parties.

Senior Manager, Honda R&D
“So what we’ve done is taken vehicle to vehicle technology and embedded that into a cellphone and allow the vehicle and pedestrian to be in communication with each other. And if there should be a conflict, it’ll warn the driver and the pedestrian.”

It’s meant to supplement current anti-collision technology. That uses radar, but that means the pedestrian already has to be in the roadway and visible from the car to trigger the system. That’s difficult on occasions when the pedestrian steps out from between vehicles.

The system uses a radio channel dedicated to intelligent transportation systems close to that of 5GHz WiFi. The firmware of the phone was updated to support it, but the phone required no new hardware.

Honda sees it as a crucial safety technology to help avoid accidents with pedestrians who are increasingly in their own little worlds of music, email or text messages while walking along busy streets.

It’s part of a long-term safety program at Honda

Honda is looking toward a future collision free society where accidents simply won’t be allowed to happen, so this technology is key stepping stone toward that end goal.

And it’s not just for pedestrians. The standard will include attributes for cyclists, road construction workers, police and emergency workers and the disabled .. basically anyone that might be in the roadway and at extra risk of an accident.

It looks likely to encompass both US and European auto-makers, so it will even work when you go overseas.

That’s good news for all road users.