Ford drivers can receive alerts from the phones of nearby pedestrians

Ford is working on a designed mobile application to alert drivers of pedestrians and cyclists nearby.

The app, scheduled to debut at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America World Congress in Los Angeles this week, uses Bluetooth Low Energy to send a location alert from a pedestrian or bicyclist’s smartphone to passing Ford vehicles equipped with the latest infotainment- entertainment system. The system then calculates potential crash risks by providing on-screen and audio warnings.

Ford said it will demonstrate the technology using T-Mobile’s 5G Advanced Network Solution, as well as research from Commsignia, PSS, Ohio State University and Tome Software. The technology also has other potential applications, including detecting construction zones and construction workers, according to Ford.

The automaker said the feature is meant to complement, not replace, it Advanced driver assistance system Co-Pilot 360. The safety package includes features such as automatic lane keeping and blind spot assist.

“Newer Ford vehicles that now feature Ford Co-Pilot360 technology can detect and alert drivers to pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders and more – and even apply the brakes if drivers don’t react in time,” Jim Buckkowski, Ford’s executive director of research and advanced engineering, said in a statement. “We are now exploring ways to extend vehicle sensing capabilities to areas that drivers cannot see, to help people drive even more confidently on roads that are increasingly shared by others using their two feet or two wheels.’

Instead of relying on cameras or radar, which can only detect people and objects in direct line of sight, Bluetooth Low Energy uses radio waves to sense behind buildings and other obstacles. Ford did not provide details on how far away a pedestrian can be detected – a key factor for drivers who may need to react quickly.

The technology is already widely available in smartphones, which typically need to be paired with other devices to communicate. Ford said its app can communicate with multiple similarly equipped devices within range without pairing them.

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