Pedestrian Detection Is The Next Auto Safety Trend

Full Auto Brake with Pedestrian Detection  -  2011 Volvo S60

Full Auto Brake with Pedestrian Detection - 2011 Volvo S60

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As we move closer and closer to a future that involves fully autonomous cars, it’s becoming clear that systems developed for the self driving cars of tomorrow are making cars of today safer.

Recent studies prove that technologies like collision detection, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking help to reduce accidents. If an accident is unavoidable, modern in-car safety features like advanced airbags, smart seat belts and high-strength steel construction help to minimize injuries.

That makes cars safer for drivers and passengers, but doesn’t do anything to improve the survivability of car and pedestrian impacts. While Volvo has implemented an injury-reducing pedestrian airbag system for new models, the best type of crash is still one that never happens.

That makes pedestrian (and animal) detection the next big wave in auto safety, especially since upcoming Euro NCAP standards will rate cars on their ability to prevent pedestrian injuries. As Automotive News Europe (subscription required) reports, Continental has developed a camera-based pedestrian detection system that it hopes will see widespread adoption.

Unlike other pedestrian-detection systems, Continental’s stereo-camera based version can be deployed without links to other technologies, or it can be tied into radar based detection systems for improved range. One appeal of Continental’s system is its potentially low cost: camera sensors have dropped in price, making the system more cost-effective to implement.

Volvo’s pedestrian and animal detection system uses cameras, radar and infrared sensors to detect living objects in the car’s path of travel. GM, however, is taking a more innovative (and, probably, cost-effective) approach by detecting the wireless signal from a pedestrian’s smartphone. That may help with joggers and bicyclists, but deer don’t carry iPhones.

This much is clear: within the next decade, we’ll see the widespread implementation of technology, across all automotive price points, that was the stuff of science fiction just a few years back. Advancement comes at a price, however, so we can expect cars to get more complex and more expensive as safety technology becomes mainstream.

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Comments (8)
  1. how bout drivers just pay attention like they are suppose too....

  2. @Lawrence, I see that happening less and less with each passing year.

  3. On the one hand, with the world population increasing, the number of cars and drivers increasing, engine power increasing, cars made out of lighter alloys and improved ergonomics, the number of roads and highways increasing in number and complexity; it is going to be more and more difficult for a simple "safe driver" to control all the variables involved into driving safely. On the other hand with more powerful,cheaper, and more compacted computers, more powerful and cheaper GPS and communications, autonomous driving in cars is going to be as real and necessary as is autopilot controlling airplanes today.

  4. @Adalberto, there will be tangible benefits to autonomous cars, like retaining the independence of elderly or handicapped drivers. For those of us with a passion for driving, though, it's hard to be unconcerned about the implications of "unmanned transportation units."

    I also see less of an emphasis placed on driver education these days, which leads to the misperception that driving is an easy task. It is, until something goes wrong at speed, and then it very suddenly isn't.

    If drivers understood how violent a loss of control is at, say, 70 miles per hour, I seriously doubt texting while driving would be a problem.

  5. @Kurt, Agreed. IMO, You will have nothing to worry about as I see manned driving as an option as still manned piloting an A-380 or a Jumbo 747 is today. Safe driving is indeed harder 70 mph than it is at 55 mph. However, there are roads in Texas today with 80 mph speed limit, and there is an Autobahn in Germany where there's no speed limit! You will still have the choice, but like they say: "with choice comes responsibility" I hear there's nothing nicer than piloting your own plane. However, how many pilots actually fly their B-757 from New Your to Paris today? Only when autopilot is not working!

  6. And, you are right again! Education is doomed in many fronts, because (IMO) it is becoming cheaper to build a powerful computer that it is to form an educator. But will computing surpass human instincts and common sense?

  7. @Adalberto, I hope not. I'd be the first to admit that teachers, not computers, made me who I am today.

    As for instinct and common sense, both are being endangered by the digital revolution. People are more aware of the virtual world than the real world these days.

  8. Hello,

    Are pedestrian detection and cyclist detection systems sold as accessory to add to a car ?

    Thank you.

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