Mike Stevens | Jul 27, 2012

GM has turned its boffins to the next phase in pedestrian safety, utilising the now ubiquitous smartphone in a new collision avoidance system.

Based on the Wi-Fi Direct technology now found in many phones, GM hopes the system will allow cars to know when a smartphone-carrying pedestrian is nearby.

Depending on driver settings and the situation, the system would then display a visual warning or sound an alert.

GM says the advantage of Wi-Fi Direct is that it allows the system to detect and communicate with nearby devices in one to two seconds, compared to seven or eight seconds for regular wireless systems.

With a detection range of around 200 metres, GM says the technology could also be used to synchronise music and data from a home computer or handheld device to the car without leaving the house.

The plan is not without its flaws: GM admits that for the system to work, pedestrians would need to install a dedicated app, and Wi-Fi Direct would need to be active. The constant connecting would also be a drain on phone batteries.

For cars alone, GM is already working on a vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) system, offering the same collision-avoidance benefits.

In the future, the technology could also supplement GPS technology by alerting drivers to nearby traffic jams and accidents.

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