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New Smartphone Tech To Alert Pedestrians: 'You Are About To Be Hit By a Car' 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-when-looking-with-your-eyes-is-too-old-fashioned dept.
cartechboy writes "Usually, smartphones are a problem for humans transporting themselves — a massive distraction. But Honda is working on a way to use smartphones to protect pedestrians from bad drivers. The 'V2P' (Vehicle-to-Pedestrian) tech uses a smartphone's GPS and dedicated short range communications (DSRC) to warn drivers when a pedestrian say, steps out from behind a parked car. So the driver sees a dashboard message warning of an approaching pedestrian (which also notes whether said walker is using phone, texting or listening to music — which sort of shouldn't matter as you, uhm, brake.) The lucky pedestrian gets an alert on their phone telling them there's a DSRC-equipped car coming – that's if, say, actually looking at the road isn't telling you that already." The lesson here is to always keep your eyes on your smartphone when you're crossing the street. If you get an alert, stop where you are and read it! Relatedly, there's another phone app in development to help you avoid gunfire.
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New Smartphone Tech To Alert Pedestrians: 'You Are About To Be Hit By a Car'

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:19PM (#44761305) Homepage Journal

    "You will not win the lottery!"

    "Whoa! Good thing you warned me, phone, I was about to buy a ticket ... um ... this is one of those Catch 22s isn't it?"

    "HA HA HA!"

    "Damn."

  • by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:19PM (#44761307)

    You were hit by a car......30 seconds ago.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:38PM (#44761451)

      Meanwhile Google's answer is to embed NFC chips in the bumpers of all cars, so that you can be told you were hit exactly at the moment of impact.

      Truly a technically superior solution, and finally a use for those NFC readers they keep shipping.

    • In Indian Roads you will get a million alert messages per second... and it doesnt matter if you are pedestrian or the driver!

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      You were hit by a car......30 seconds ago.

      On the Android phone - You are about to be hit by a Google mapping car! Massive pr0ps!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      On the iPhone, it only works if you're about to be hit by a Prius. Well, at first. Rest assured it'll keep a database of whatever's the trendiest city car of the time, updated hourly, so you'll be the first to know when you're about to be hit by the most popular and prettiest in vehicle technology!

      Google will come up with a web API for it for Android phones, but nobody will implement it. So they'll make their own car that's compatible with it, but only market it for developers. Three months later, they'

      • Thanks for the giggle, just wondering what a Z10 will do under the same circumstances? Call 911 for you? If connected to a remote bluetooth heart monitor [amazon.com], inform relatives, update your facebook status, setup a reading of your will, and call an funeral parlor, do a sell off e-trade of all your holdings and add any profits to your portfolio account, the phone itself will automatically list itself on e-bay and wipe all personal data at the moment all transactions have been completed after your heart stops? Th
    • by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:11PM (#44761691) Journal

      No, they need to play irritating music with a DO YOU WANT THIS IMPORTANT MESSAGE DISPLAYED? By the time they figure out how to dismiss it their genes will be out of the pool.

    • We would have called 911 automatically, but Samsung patented that technology. Instead we automatically tweeted for you,"Help! I've been run over by a car."
    • "That is NOT just a flesh wound." is about to become the dominate thought in your brain.

  • When one of there driver less cars hit's some one they use some like this to say it's the person who get hit's fault.

    • by pspahn (1175617)

      Because the pedestrian should be allowed to step out into traffic from behind a parked car?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      -1, Wanton cruelty to English language.

      Tho'se apo'strophe's, their crying!

      Like most cruel crimes are perpetrated by people close to victims, this mauling's certainly a native speaker's deed.

    • by mrsquid0 (1335303)

      We usually blame the victim when someone runs into a pedestrian.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In the Netherlands it is always the car-driver's fault if he hits a pedestrian or a cyclist.

        If he can't see a pedestrian coming from behind a parked car stepping into the street he should have anticipated that and drive slower if the visibility is preventing this.

        There are some exceptions, like on a highway where pedestrians aren't allowed, but in most cases it is going to be difficult to proof that the car driver was not at fault.

        • In the Netherlands it is always the car-driver's fault if he hits a pedestrian or a cyclist.

          Even if the cyclist runs a red light?

          • by dave420 (699308)
            Of course - a driver should never assume anything.
            • Spoken like someone who has no clue what he's talking about. Why should a driver be held responsible for a cyclist running a red? Especially if he has no time to react (a very real possibility). And don't say the driver should slow down, as that can easily create more problems than it solves; it can even be dangerous to slow down depending on conditions and traffic flow.
  • Accuracy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ben C. (2950903) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:25PM (#44761357)
    I don't think GPS is accurate enough for this. When using my phone for driving directions it routinely has difficulty telling if I'm on the highway or access road next to it.
    • reversing bad moderation

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I don't think GPS is accurate enough for this. When using my phone for driving directions it routinely has difficulty telling if I'm on the highway or access road next to it.

      "You have gone through the guardrail, knucklehead, stop looking at your phone while driving"

      Hey, these really are smart phones!

  • So, all those movies with Aliens coming to earth to steal our water is ... probably not true? Say it isn't so!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:26PM (#44761363)

    Will it display said pedestrian's point value?

  • by themushroom (197365) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:26PM (#44761365) Homepage

    "...Good!"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Instead just install an app the declares "LOOK OUT DIPSHIT!" and random intervals when your phone is out of your pocket.

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      Wait til someone writes a virus that alters the program to tell you its safe while you get hit by a bus instead of being alerted.

      but in all seriousness, this is something that at this point in time is of little value, but in a future of self driving cars may mature into something very useful.
    1. 1. Walk down the street sending fake honda GPS signal
    2. 2. Find idiot
    3. 3. ???
    4. 4. Profit
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:32PM (#44761417)

    A similar technique could be used to avoid muggings. A user would download the MugMe app, and a DSRC equipped mugger would detect that you were near - instead of having to physically assault you, he would simply input the percentage of cash on hand you have that is to be debited to his account, and a pre-paid mailing box would be sent to your home wherein you could deposit your belongings on return. It would avoid ruining a night out and physical contact with the lower classes.

    You might wonder how well adoption would fare; obviously the state would make installation of the app mandatory for cell phone users and declare physical mugging illegal. To get a mugger DSRC you could employ a system much like taxi medallions, where a would-be mugger had to buy a medallion in order to have the right to mug citizens. This would also have the benefit of capping the amount of crime in a city to a well-regulated value.

    Later iterations of the app could add an improvement like the "Aid Other" feature, if someone near was being mugged other users in the area would be alerted and could chose either to "come to aid" in which case there would be a percentage chance the mugger would be virtually "scared" and get nothing. The other option would be "look away furtively" which would confer a one-day pass of freedom from mugging.

    • by sosume (680416)

      Imagine what good can happen when the government and insurance companies get hold of this data, no thanks.

    • Nice merger of reality & Diskworld...if I had mod points I'd do more than commend you, but as it stands you're stuck with some photons on a screen.

    • by nytes (231372)

      This sucks. Now I'm going to have to mug someone to get the cash for a DRSC equipped phone and a medallion.

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      The saddest thing about this is that I can actually envision it actually happening...

    • As a would-be mugger, I already use something very similar. The "app" users install is called "Microsoft WIndows," and it is effective at transferring their banking information to me, preventing any physical muggings. Your suggested system sounds as if it could gain real traction given sufficient marketing, but the competition already has a large, apparently theft-tolerant user base established. My MS-based mugging-prevention system requires no user interaction, and in fact thrives on inaction once Windows
  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:32PM (#44761425)
    If you switch to the reverse mode, will it act like a guidance system for the killer car?
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      If you switch to the reverse mode, will it act like a guidance system for the killer Karr?

      FTFY.

  • I'll finish this comment right after I check the message I just got on my ph

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:35PM (#44761437)

    Here's a crazy idea.... How about letting the pedestrian take responsibility for stepping into a busy road without looking first? ...actually you'd think it would be a self-rectifying problem through natural selection.

  • on your phone you get hit by that car unless you are REALLY fast and jump out of the way.

  • I can see it now. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doug Otto (2821601) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:38PM (#44761449)
    How long before the first lawsuit because someone's phone didn't warn them in time?
    • I know a guy who works for Land Rover, who worked on their suspension system for the Discovery range a few years ago. They developed a system which would increase pressure in the opposite side suspension (or something) to the direction you were turning and it would reduce the body roll of the car, which for a tall 4x4 is significant. They called this system Anti Roll Control, or ARC. ARC is a cool initialism.

      Some time before the tech was released to the public, the lawyers got involved. "You can't call it
  • by dr2chase (653338) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @06:38PM (#44761455) Homepage

    You don't "protect" the pedestrian by telling the bad driver to activate his brakes. Instead, automatically activate the brakes, take the bad driver out of the loop.

    This is similar to my gripe about people who think that a horn is a useful safety device -- as if the guy who you are beeping at is going to listen the horn, figure out that it applies to him, and figure out what he is doing wrong, fast enough to make a difference. Better to simply assume that he's an idiot, and work around him.

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      Better to simply assume that he's an idiot, and work around him.

      In fact... if you don't work around him you ARE the idiot.

    • by swillden (191260)

      This is similar to my gripe about people who think that a horn is a useful safety device

      A horn is a useful safety device, just not for the scenario you described. It's useful to alert others of your presence in situations where they might not notice you and where they do have time to react. I'll grant that horns aren't that useful in the US, but some other countries have driving styles which make them essential equipment, because everyone expects that if you're coming around a blind turn that you'll hit the horn to warn any oncoming traffic so that both of you can act appropriately -- and ever

    • by hurfy (735314)

      You seem to be responding as if there is something to this....

      And NO automatic crap for me please. You are coming to an intersection with red light and someone crossing. How does it know you will stop in time? By then i would be 10 ft away and the message wouldn't even get there much less get read before the splat. If you try and warn farther away then it will beep and flash warnings at every intersection. Or in your case, slam on the brakes a few feet short of the crosswalk and have everyone rear-end me.

      Mo

      • by dr2chase (653338)

        I don't think the pedestrian does know that you will stop in time, but a certain number of pedestrians aren't paying attention and this could help them. Defense in depth, after all. The few crashes that I've watched happen (and one I heard recounted in which a cousin was killed) all involved multiple coincident screwups. Not one was caused by a single point of failure. Cars currently kill thousands of pedestrians each year; there's plenty of room for improvement.

        And we do manage to (eventually) design s

    • by jamesh (87723) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @09:07PM (#44762367)

      You don't "protect" the pedestrian by telling the bad driver to activate his brakes. Instead, automatically activate the brakes, take the bad driver out of the loop.

      That would be kind of cool. Kids would soon figure out that if they run flat towards the road (but stop in time), all sorts of hilarity will follow.

      This is similar to my gripe about people who think that a horn is a useful safety device -- as if the guy who you are beeping at is going to listen the horn, figure out that it applies to him, and figure out what he is doing wrong, fast enough to make a difference. Better to simply assume that he's an idiot, and work around him.

      It works great with a lane change. If you see a car starting to change lanes into you because they haven't done their head check then a beep will normally get them to cancel their move. And yes I've been on the bad side of that (young and stupid and "i don't need to check i know there's nothing in my blind spot").

    • yeah, have the car just jam on the brakes. ...nevermind the car that is tailgating you. its their problem, right?

      (sigh)

      • by dr2chase (653338)

        I don't suppose that my car's computer could have a little chat with your car's computer, maybe they could coordinate?
        Seems like one of the very first things that smart-ish cars should get right is not running into stuff that is right in front of them.

        And we have that problem now, with ABS. A couple of years ago, renting a car, junk flew off a truck in front of us and everyone stopped fast. The guy behind me did not have ABS. Oops. Royal pain with all the paperwork, but in the end, yes, it was their pro

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The horn is a very useful safety device when it is employed properly:

      Honking twice before approaching one of those really blind pedestrian walks connecting two parks to warn anyone nearby that your vehicle is approaching.
      Honking loudly when someone is backing up and doesn't appear to notice you're there already.
      Honking at someone that has approached a stop sign at high speed and doesn't look like they're going to look before pulling out.

      In all these instances, honking is highly likely to result in avoiding

      • by dr2chase (653338)

        For either sense of the word "blind", if there's a pedestrian and it's a crosswalk, the law says you're supposed to stop for them. They are not supposed to stop for you; they have right of way. If visibility is not so good, that is presumably because the highway department assumed that you, an allegedly safe driver, would reduce your speed correspondingly so that you could always see the pedestrian that you are legally required to stop for. If you are ever honking at a pedestrian in a crosswalk, or a bli

  • i wonder if the technology is based on the 'silver-haired bat' [jt.org]?

  • >"But Honda is working on a way to use smartphones to protect pedestrians from bad drivers"

    Bad *drivers*???

    Um, no. How about idiot pedestrians who walk into the road without looking because they are too busy with their damn phones.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      There is a third course. It's about preventing bad drivers from bad pedestrians. A good driver will account for bad pedestrians without a warning. If someone steps out from between two cars and you hit them, you were going too fast. For what? For the road, for your own ability, it doesn't really matter. Slow down. I hate driving in cities too, and I get the fuck out of them as quickly as I can to where I only have to worry about plowing into wildlife, escaped livestock, or a boulder the size of a Volkswagen

      • by markdavis (642305)

        >"If someone steps out from between two cars and you hit them, you were going too fast."

        In your example, they were jaywalking, which is illegal. If you hit them in a crosswalk, there would be far less question about liability. But you are not automatically at fault when someone just pops out in front of you elsewhere.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          In your example, they were jaywalking, which is illegal. If you hit them in a crosswalk, there would be far less question about liability.

          No, right now we're not talking about legal liability, try very hard to keep up. We're talking about bad drivers. If you don't account for road conditions, you're a bad driver. If you do want to talk about legal liability though, that depends on where you are. If you hit a pedestrian anywhere within the city of Santa Cruz, you're pretty much at fault. And that's the way it should be. Otherwise cities fall to the tyranny of the car, and they just fucking suck.

  • "a way to use smartphones to protect pedestrians from bad drivers."
    More like protect good drivers from bad pedestrians. It always amuses me to see how many people will walk into a street without ever looking for traffic. They just assume a crosswalk provides them some sort of magical protection from the 3,000 lb dragons.
  • by dinther (738910) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:03PM (#44761641) Homepage

    But on a serious note. I am seeing way to many hairbrain schemes where drivers attention on the road is drawn to a screen where graphical information about potential dangers is displayed.

    I am willing to put money on it that in every single case the results of the distraction causes more harm then it prevents.

    How the hell can people be banned from using a mobile phone in a car but it is perfectly fine to use Satnav, radio or a gazillion new doodads. Each of them far more distracting then a conversation on the phone.

    I while back I even saw an IPad application that uses the camera to interpret the car's dashboard ( http://www.gizmag.com/audi-a3-augmented-reality-manual/28693/ [gizmag.com] )

    Madness.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      How the hell can people be banned from using a mobile phone in a car but it is perfectly fine to use Satnav, radio or a gazillion new doodads.

      It's not legal to drive while distracted and some states actually have laws which explicitly prevent you from using the satnav while driving.

      • by gottabeme (590848)

        It's not legal to drive while distracted

        I usually detest this response, but I think it's justified here: Citation needed. Generalization detected.

        What is "distracted" anyway? If I need to pee really bad, is that distracted, and therefore illegal? Would I therefore be legally required to stop and relieve myself on the shoulder, or stop and wait for...help?

        What's illegal is driving recklessly and running into things with your car, regardless of how much attention you were paying.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          What is "distracted" anyway? If I need to pee really bad, is that distracted, and therefore illegal? Would I therefore be legally required to stop and relieve myself on the shoulder, or stop and wait for...help?

          Yes, the law is often subjective. Not my fault. If you want a citation, look in YOUR state law. I don't even know what state you're in, so even if I wanted to track down the relevant statute I wouldn't know which code to look in. Perhaps you should consider that while being a lazy bastard.

          • by gottabeme (590848)

            I may be lazy, but at least I don't make unsubstantiated generalizations...most of the time.

  • I love how most of the comments so far expound upon how bad more information is. Oh no, issuing a warning beep when a collision is predicted is a bad thing because [pedestrians that stupid deserve to die, a warning will cause the crash, this will never work because of some technical issue]. I've seen plenty of CCTV footage of people messing with a phone walking into a fountain, a wall, or otherwise harming themselves. I'm not sure how a warning is a bad thing. But nobody here seems willing to indicate t
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Why?

      Personal responsibility. Get some.

      Even my dog knows better than to cross the street without looking having grown up in the city.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        So we should make seatbelts illegal, as they remove the personal responsibility from those who cause crashes? When they feel safe, they make unsafe choices, so force the responsibility by decreasing actual safety. That is your argument, right?
  • ...from behind a car stopped in traffic. I never saw him, and and he never looked my way. I was traveling about 30 mph, and later reconstruction of the incident by the county sheriff's office (used in my defense during the civil court case) showed that there was probably less than 2 seconds between when he stepped out and when I hit him. I seriously doubt this app would have helped him or anyone else in a similar situation.

    BTW, he was issued a ticket in the hospital for "failure to yield right of way to

  • by Dishevel (1105119) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:21PM (#44761753)

    which sort of shouldn't matter as you, uhm, brake

    It does matter. Because if some asshole is texting I will not be braking but accelerating.

  • It will be a great help while I am on the way to the hospital to find out that I was just struck by a vehicle. Nice to see T-Mobile will be there to clue me in as to what happened after the fact, since my texts often arrive too late to function as an effective preventive measure.
  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @09:35PM (#44762491)
    Passing the buck again and making no one responsible for being a dumb ass. Yes bad drivers exist and yes none observant pedestrians exist but I don't think we need to use technology to protect these people. If you're going to be walking around in a traffic populated area and not pay attention then don't complain when you get hit. In the same right if you're in a car and you are in an area where there is high pedestrian traffic then pay attention and drive slow. It shouldn't be the phones problem to warm idiots that there own stupidity is about to get them in trouble. After all with a system like this what will end up happening is that the system will start getting blamed when it doesn't work rather then the idiots being blamed for being the problem in the first place.
  • So you start to cross the street and get a message on your phone. Now you're distracted, you look at your phone, and it says: "congratz you're dead". Instead of looking at the road, you are reading some message about the car that just hit you. Ideally people would respond to the car rather than the phone. But then again, ideally people wouldn't drive off a cliff just because gps said to turn right.
  • You could just slip the phone into your pocket for five damn seconds
  • (Sorry I couldn't warn you in time; network delays, you know.)

  • by smash (1351) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @09:52PM (#44762577) Homepage Journal
    Use those 2 ultra high def video processors in the front of your face, idiots. I await the coming lawsuits from people who were hit by a car without being warned by their phone in earnest.
  • So if a person is about to step out from behind a parked car and the driver is actually paying attention to the road, send him an alert to the dashboard which makes him briefly take his eyes off the road to read a message? Seriously?
  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @10:08PM (#44762657)

    The car is like a predator on the hunt. The inattentive smartphone user is like an oblivious gazelle. Suddenly the car pounces! One less oblivious gazelle on the savannah.

    Eventually, selection pressure will weed out the oblivious gazelles, leaving only the alert ones.

    Nature is both terrible and beautiful.

    • Then the 'best & brightest' would be killed due to being distracted by thinking intensely about their projects, while the many Average Joes/Janes that bumble obediently through life would survive -- that's not exactly progress. Being "fit to survive" in a particular environment is usually tied to how physically capable the person is, not how brilliantly talented or otherwise good for society they are, just as people's mental and physical abilities are two separate beasts.

      Besides that, the entire reason

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        The best and the brightest would have looked before crossing the street. Its one thing to learn from language and accumulate knowledge (via language) ... that sets us apart from the rest of the animals on the planet ... if you get hit by a car because you were dicking with your phone, you clearly are missing the very thing that separates us from other animals, the ability to learn from others without actual experience.

        I'm not talking about letting some aboriginal Australian get hit by a cab in New York whe

        • I'd say that getting hit by a car while dicking with your phone DOES separate you from the animals. Even the dumbest ape knows to get out of the way of a charging rhino.

  • Where can I get the app to alert me; if there's a need to evacuate the building? Specifically.... if there's a fire in the crowded theatre; I want an app to alert me immediately, so I can scramble for the door, and get out first: trampling anyone who dare stand in my way.

  • Can we please stop doing things to save people not worth saving? This is in the same class as putting warning labels on Lawn Mowers that you shouldn't pick them up and try to use them as hedge trimmers, or warning labels on cans of RAID bug spray. If you aren't smart enough to avoid these issues, you're just a drain.

  • The way this'd be really handy for a driver, is if they head a decent HUD on their windscreen, which could highlight pedestrians *through* a parked van. Of course, we would need better GPS, a better HUD, some head tracking, and a few other bits and bobs...
  • You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
  • to human problems. If someone is so intent on reading the latest message or just has to surf the web while walking, it's their fault if they step into traffic.

    All this technology does is increase the amount of things which can go wrong/give false positives, thus increasing the likelihood that the driver will take evasive action when none is needed or will not be notified because the software decided not to work.

    Survival of the fittest. Let enough people get run over and the problem will solve itself.

  • Anyone crossing the road from behind a parked car whilst using a smartphone, fiddling with a music player or otherwise not paying total attention to the large, fast moving, multi ton objects hurtling along the road deserves to get run over.

    They really do.

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