New system warns drivers of pedestrians, even when they're not in view
A schematic of the Ko-TAG system in use
As some readers may already know, Volvo recently developed a system that uses an in-vehicle radar system to alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians and cyclists on the road in front of them. Now, Germany's Technische Universitaet Muenchen has come up with a system of its own, that can even detect pedestrians that aren't within line of sight of the car.
In the university's Ko-TAG system, pedestrians and cyclists carry a transponder – this could be a small wearable device, or it could simply be built into their smartphone.
Cars, on the other hand, transmit a coded radio signal. As a vehicle gets within range of a pedestrian, that person's transponder picks up the signal and responds by altering the code, then transmitting it back to the vehicle "in a very precise temporal pattern." By analyzing that pattern, the vehicle's onboard positioning system is able to determine the speed and trajectory of the pedestrian.
By combining the originating location of the return signal with the car's own present GPS coordinates, it's also able to determine the pedestrian's location to within a few centimeters – and it does so within a few microseconds. If it determines that the car and the person are about to collide, it can alert the driver or even automatically apply the brakes.
One of the system's big selling points is the fact that, unlike radar-based technology, it can detect pedestrians even when they're hidden from view. This could save people from being hit when walking out from between parked cars, or other objects.
Volvo is likewise working on what it calls a "car-to-cyclist communications system," although details on how it works have yet to be released.
Source: Technische Universitaet Muenchen
About the Author
An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
All articles by Ben Coxworth
Should call it the Hyacinth system, after Hyacinth Bucket, always telling her husband, Richard, "Mind the pedestrian, dear.".
That was the British comedy series "Keeping up Appearances".
Maybe if we all had imbedded RFID chips.....
Bruce H. Anderson
@Bruce H. Anderson:
Well no (or at least not yet...) but we have all got mobiles (cells) today, haven't we? This is an excellent technological solution to a growing problem. Every year more cyclists are mown down because of either their own, or some driver's, stupidity or arrogance. And given some drivers' liking for parking on the pavement (sidewalk), no doubt pedestrian numbers will soon start to rise as well.
I'm a cyclist, and I think that if a car's brakes are to be applied automatically to avoid such a collision, then so too should the bicycle's, or else some idiot cyclist will use his/her tag as a means to annoy drivers, which isn't acceptable.
With that taken care of, it's a brilliant piece of work. I want one yesterday, please!
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