Here at TTAC, we sometimes offer up a story published by a sister publication after deciding it’s something worthy of your time. This piece, published by GMInsideNews, fits that bill. While the soulless autonomous future scares many of us, General Motors is working on a way to stop those driverless cars from plowing over each and every one of us. Read on.
GeneralÂ MotorsÂ continues to pour money and time into perfecting vehicle autonomy.
One of the integral themes of an autonomous driving future is communication. Vehicles will be required to rapidly and constantly talk to one another, relaying position, speed, and intent, with the same demandsÂ applying to our roadways and intersections â€” which will be expected to relay weather, traffic, andÂ safetyÂ information in real time as vehicles approach.
Pedestrians, however, pose a unique problem. In busy cities, pedestrians and drivers routinely communicate nonverbally by making eye contact or gesticulating, but an autonomous vehicle doesnâ€™t have that privilege. Its machine code is dependant on a series of binary questions it must ask itself in order to determine if the person is a threat, which â€” if affirmative â€” currentlyÂ results in the car coming to a halt, which on occasion has caused a rear-end collision, or two.
Well,Â GMÂ is working on aÂ systemÂ in which autonomous vehicles will be capable of better understanding the motions of pedestrians by communicating with their Internet-connected devices, be it smart-phones,Â wearables, or perhaps even future advancements made towards transhumanism.
According to a patent application published on January 30, 2018, by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,Â GMÂ is working on a vehicle-to-pedestrian communicationÂ systemÂ that will be able to determine a pedestrianâ€™s presence and proximity basedÂ on the interface between the car and the device.
According to the document, theÂ systemÂ aims to establishÂ digitalÂ contactÂ betweenÂ the vehicle and pedestrian, focusing in particular on blind situations, where neither party is â€œawareâ€� of the otherâ€™s presence.
For example, a pedestrian moving quickly toward the road from behind a visual impediment like a bus-stop, building, or even other pedestrians, may not see or hear the approaching vehicle, especially if theyâ€™re focused on theirÂ phoneÂ or usingÂ headphones.Â However, thereâ€™s also a rarer, albeit far more dangerous situation thisÂ systemÂ is hoping to avoid: the unsightedÂ pedestrian on a rural road or the hard to see person standing on the side of a freeway.
After quickly running the location data through a path-predictionÂ algorithm, GMâ€™s proposed interface will then either alter the autonomous vehicleâ€™s behavior, warn the pedestrian of the vehicleâ€™s impending arrival, or, in emergency circumstances (like an impending autonomous vehicle crash), the pedestrian(s) could be warned toÂ GTFO.
In some cases, the algorithmÂ may simply determine that neither party can â€œseeâ€� each other, and in turn alert both to each otherâ€™s presence, without the need to take further action. Or, it could ask the pedestrian to wait before entering the intersection because the road is icy and the AV approaching might not be able to stop.
While much of the patentâ€™s examples describe autonomous vehicles, the technology is not limited to use when an AV is being operated autonomously, pointing to the potential for the technology to debut before we reach full-on private autonomy.
[Images: General Motors, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office]