Ford thinks Bluetooth LE can hold pedestrians and cyclists secure from automobiles

One good factor that got here out of the pandemic is that extra folks picked up biking. Within the first three months of 2021, American client spending on bikes and biking equipment elevated by 34 % 12 months on 12 months to $8.2 billion. Nevertheless, the pandemic additionally noticed extra die and undergo accidents whereas biking. In response to the Nationwide Security Council, 1,260 cyclists have been killed in 2020, a 16 % improve from 2019.

It’s an issue that Ford thinks expertise can handle. On Monday, the automaker introduced it’s working with Commsignia, PSS, Ohio State College, T-Cellular and Tome Software program to discover how a smartphone app may warn drivers of pedestrians and cyclists they could not see. As somebody sharing the street with a automotive, you’d set up the corporate’s software program in your cellphone. With the assistance of Bluetooth Low Power, automobiles with Ford’s Sync infotainment system would see you as “beacons.” If the automotive then determines there’s the potential for a crash, it can warn the motive force utilizing audiovisual cues.

In response to Ford, its strategy has a couple of benefits. One is that Bluetooth LE is sort of ubiquitous. The expertise has been a part of the Bluetooth protocol since 2009, which means each trendy smartphone has entry to it. In the event you personal a Ford automobile, you gained’t have to convey your automotive to a dealership for a {hardware} improve for the reason that Sync system options Bluetooth compatibility. The opposite benefit of utilizing Bluetooth LE is that your automotive gained’t have to see pedestrians and cyclists earlier than it could warn you. Ford and T-Cellular are additionally engaged on a model of the app that makes use of 5G as a substitute of Bluetooth LE.

In follow, the corporate’s strategy is paying homage to the COVID publicity notification apps some nations and states deployed originally of the pandemic. As you might recall, these additionally used Bluetooth LE. Nevertheless, regardless of backing from Apple and Google, they have been by no means efficient as a consequence of low utilization. In Canada, as an example, the federal COVID Alert app was solely downloaded 6.9 million occasions and logged 63,117 optimistic checks. Put one other manner, nowhere close to sufficient Canadians downloaded the software program to make it an efficient contact tracing device. Ford’s app is more likely to expertise among the identical points. 

As an avid bicycle owner, I can’t inform you how many individuals I’ve seen using their bikes at night time with out an LED gentle to make themselves seen to site visitors. Alternatively, statistics recommend motorists have been driving extra aggressively in recent times, resulting in the aforementioned improve in bicycle owner deaths in addition to automobile crashes. Any sort of intervention can be welcome, however Ford’s app is not more likely to be a significant answer if it ever involves market. Whereas the Bluetooth LE answer to COVID had just one uphill climb, apps like Ford’s have two: adoption by cyclists and adoption by automakers.

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