GM working on Wi-Fi Direct-equipped cars to detect pedestrians and cyclists


July 27, 2012

A system using Wi-Fi Direct technology being develop by GM has the potential to detect pedestrians and cyclists before the driver notices them

A system using Wi-Fi Direct technology being develop by GM has the potential to detect pedestrians and cyclists before the driver notices them

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

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Of course those of us who choose not to carry a phone won't be seen because the car didn't see us and the person behind the wheel is not paying attention to anything but to do with driving except what the car tells him.


Great idea.

Make it so it can detect a deer then you have a winner.


Wireless adhoc networking holds the key to eradicating the human element from urban driving. Done properly it means the end of prangs, traffic lights, and drunk drivers. Trouble is, some people actually enjoy the chore of driving and will come up with all sorts of dumb excuses to keep doing it. People like Slowburn will have no choice but to carry a wireless device of some kind if they wish to interact with traffic. Country driving is a different ballgame and the transition from "controlled roadspace" to "open road" will always have to be made somewhere.


Great, so a speeding ambulance can lock everyone down within a traveling hi speed zone, and then what/who decides when the speeding cop car going the similar route, suddenly all hell breaks looose, as the signals STOP ..... Oh ya that's the hacker who jambs all signals but his....

Dream on folks... god gave us senses...............USE them!!

Bob Flint

As much as I have to agree with all above, yes, you your sense and the ultimate one... common sense.

But kidding apart, Ford's been working on something similar for a while now.

Nicolas Zart

re; nutcase

How bout they use a sensors that can see pets, small children, and say a box of rocks.


I have no problem with autonomously operating vehicles and would expect mine to spend a lot of time screaming to the other cars, "THE IDIOT IS DRIVING. THE IDIOT IS DRIVING."

But driver "aids" that can not show everyone and the vermin eating coyotes as well are a mistake.


Well the idea was pulished in a paper in 2008. The investigation went further into using new protected bandwiths with IEEE 802.11, otherwise the system would have amateur status when being jammed. The paper was featuring a second invention, the use of trajecories constructed from self tracking. Nowadays it is easy using on board sensors of the nomadic devices to define the velocity and headway. Of course the system does only cover those equipped, but the prices of the devices are constantly falling. So I'm looking towards patent claims issued by GM to compare with the publication!


re;Slowburn: the opportunity already exists to sabotage the traffic network. For a while there we had kids dropping rocks on cars from freeway overpasses. Commonsense works both ways ya know ;)


re; nutcase

The "box of rocks" was a stand in for any inert object that could have been accidentally dropped onto the road whether from a truck or the side of a mountain. Dealing with criminal activity is another although related subject.


The fact remains. 99% of road accidents are caused by human error. The worst of human errors is that vehicles offer unlimited freedom.

Wireless technology, shape recognition, laser ranging, etc. All the technology needed to build a driver-free traffic network already exist. Nobody has really bothered to do it because it doesn't sell.

It is bizarre in the extreme that the best way to market a passenger vehicle is to build a ridiculously overpowered racing version and go faster than the competition on a racetrack. "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" is a sad reflection of our childish tendencies.

Sadly we buy vehicles more as a fashion accessory than a practical appliance.


re; nutcase

The USofA Defense Department and Department of the Army in the form of DARPA have been developing driver free vehicles for a variety of reasons not least of which is the most expensive component in a Army trucks service life is the soldier driving it. Currently Driver free trucks are good only for very limited service which tends to disprove that all the technology for driver free traffic systems is already in existence.

The idea that the company that makes the best race car builds the best cars is out of date but stock car racing was a lot better when the cars were stock.

The people that I know buy the car that fit there needs best even if that means that they commute in a SUV because it is the car that fits all their kids.

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