General Motors is working to expand upon its vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems that are being developed to allow information to be shared between vehicles and infrastructure to provide advance warning of potential road hazards, such as stalled vehicles, slippery roads, road works, intersections, stop signs and the like. The automaker is now looking to add pedestrians and cyclists to the mix so a car can detect them in low visibility conditions before the driver does.

Instead of relying on Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) technology like the V2I and V2V systems, the pedestrian-detecting system under development uses Wi-Fi Direct, a peer-to-peer standard that allows Wi-Fi devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to connect directly to each other without the need for a wireless hotspot.

GM says that integrating Wi-Fi Direct with other sensor-based object detection and driver alert systems already available in many production vehicles will enable pedestrians and cyclists carrying Wi-Fi Direct-enabled smartphones to be detected. And whereas conventional systems will have a lag of around seven to eight seconds because a signal needs to be sent to and from a mobile phone tower, Wi-Fi Direct offers location data that is current up to one second as it eliminates this intermediate step.

“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,” said Nady Boules, GM Global R&D director of the Electrical and Control Systems Research Lab. “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.”

And for frequent road users who may not necessarily be behind the wheel, such as bike messengers and construction workers, GM is also looking at developing a complementary app for Wi-Fi Direct-capable smartphones that can be downloaded to allow Wi-Fi Direct-equipped vehicles to identify them.

But safety isn’t the only potential benefit of integrating Wi-Fi Direct technology into a vehicle. GM says that, with Wi-Fi Direct devices able to be connected over a range of around 656 ft (200 m), music files or contact information could also be securely transferred from the home computer to a vehicle’s infotainment or navigation system while it sits in the driveway or garage.

Source: GM