Monday, May 25, 2009

Mobile phone and automotive GPS collision avoidance for pedestrians, bicyclists, tricyclists, skaters and pets

Years ago I wondered about collision avoidance systems for bicycles and pedestrians.

Something like a vest that would reflect radar signals broadcast by cars.  The primary automobile use of the radar broadcasts would be to avoid auto collisions, but bicyclists would also benefit.

There would be lots of ways then to avoid bicycle fatalities. Maybe the bike is illuminated on an active windshield. Maybe there’s an audio alarm if vectors appear to intersect.

Now that we’ve got systems like Google Latitude (not available for iPhone – it needs background multitasking!) though, it’s obvious we can do the whole thing with next generation mobile phones.

We don’t even need to worry about this patent …

GPS collision avoidance system - Patent 5872526

… A collision avoidance system for a plurality of vehicles equipped with GPS receivers, each broadcasting current location information to other vehicles and receiving and displaying location information from other vehicles, enables a vehicle operator to be aware of the location of the other vehicles. For vehicles not equipped with GPS, and transceivers, information about location is taken from common ground control equipment such as an FAA control station and broadcast to all vehicles. In an aircraft environment, flight plans can be filed and closed out automatically…

The GPS source would be the mobile phones of the automobile passengers, and the mobile phone of the bicyclist. Not to mention the mobile-phone like device attached to dogs.

The phones can even manage the collision avoidance, though there are obvious advantages to having the car computer manage that.

It’s interesting to think how it could work with just phones, however.

If a phone knows it has a history of travel over 35 mph, it can assume it’s in a car. If Google Latitude 3.0 detects a car/mobile vector intersecting with a bicycle/skating/pet/pedestrian mobile vector it can send an audio message to the car stereo (“Pedestrian collision in 5 seconds … 4 seconds … 3 seconds … …. …. ambulance and police now enroute …”).

You can imagine lots of variants. Unfortunately, lots of opportunities for nasty abuse as well.

In a post-Peak Oil America of aging boomers, domesticating the wild and savage automobile will become increasingly important. These kinds of collision avoidance systems will mandated within 10 years.

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