WTF: Ford concept against traffic accidents: Bluetooth app to warn drivers

In the future, people who walk or cycle should use a smartphone app to warn drivers if there is a risk of an accident. At least that’s how it is imagined at Ford, the US car company is developing “an affordable and scalable smartphone-based communication technology” for this with T-Mobile, among other things. This involves an app that is supposed to run on the smartphone and use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to make Ford vehicles aware of the location of the owner. If the vehicle detects a risk of collision, warnings should appear in the car.

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As Ford explains, the concept builds on technology that is already being installed in new vehicles from the company. With the “Co-Pilot 360”, warnings could already be issued for pedestrians, cyclists, people on electric scooters and others, and braking would even be automatic if necessary. Now it’s a matter of expanding the vehicle’s detection range to areas that are not directly visible, “to let people drive even more confidently on roads that are increasingly shared with others on two feet or two wheels”. The group points out that the number of deaths on US roads has increased significantly in 2021. Unlike in Germany, the number of fatal bicycle accidents in the USA has also increased.

The concept is therefore based on the assumption that all people who are on the road will install and use the app just to warn Ford vehicles. In addition, it can at least be doubted that the energy-saving Bluetooth variant BLE is the right technology for this. It was developed to network devices that are a few meters apart in a power-saving manner. The range can increase significantly outdoors, but determining the position based on the signals is difficult. Even at a distance of 10 meters, the determined position can deviate from the actual value by almost 8 meters, two Indonesian researchers determined in 2019. There is not much time left to brake.

Overall, the plan is reminiscent of the contact tracing apps used in the fight against Covid-19, but data is exchanged between pedestrians.


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