From finding the nearest place to refuel to ensuring we’re heading in the right direction, mobile devices have become a tremendous help on our journeys on the road. But the relationship between roadways and mobile devices isn’t always harmonious. It isn’t only distracted driving that makes this relationship rocky: pedestrian fatalities account for nearly 14% of total road fatalities according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and devices that monopolize the attention of pedestrians can contribute to that danger.
The question of pedestrian safety prompted Qualcomm Technologies to use its technology to find a solution: in cooperation with Honda R&D Americas, Qualcomm Technologies worked on an innovative solution to facilitate roadway safety by turning these natural opponents into teammates, using Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) technology. The resulting project, which uses smartphone- and car-based DSRC technology to make pedestrians and drivers aware of each others’ presence, won the companies the 2015 Research Design and Innovation award from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.
We asked Xinzhou Wu, Principal Engineer at Qualcomm Technologies, about the project, his experience with it, and what he sees from the potential of projects like it, both in challenging daunting social problems and how collaboration can activate innovation.
Q: Can you give us a brief overview of how this technology works, and how Qualcomm Snapdragon processors supports it?
XW: The technology uses communications to exchange position, velocity, and acceleration information between vehicles and pedestrians. Both vehicle and pedestrian can use that information to estimate the collision probability. We utilized the integrated connectivity solution in Snapdragon processors to enable direct communications with vehicles. We also implemented situationally aware capability and position/motion-based collision probability estimation in the Snapdragon processor. Put simply, when the technologies calculate that a driver and a pedestrian are on a collision course, notices are pushed to each other’s respective devices, prompting them to be aware of their surroundings and avoid an accident.
Q: What was the inspiration behind this challenge, and what made you confident that Snapdragon was uniquely positioned for it?
XW: First is the societal benefit of reducing pedestrian casualties caused by vehicle accidents. The second is to help vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems to be widely deployed as soon as possible, by providing vehicle-to-pedestrian communications, as smartphone penetration is already very high. Snapdragon processors are uniquely positioned for this, since the connectivity implementation is the only one that can be modified to support V2V communications at 5.9 GHz. And the Snapdragon based sensor algorithm implementation and processing power are natural fit for this task.
Q: What’s the next project you would like to engage using V2V DSRC technology? Are there any applications it could have outside of the auto industry (say, aeronautics, space, shipping, or manufacturing)?
XW: Likely the V2V technology can be used for communications between robots. We have already started talking to our robotics team on how to move forward with this.
Q: Based on your understanding of the possibilities supported by Snapdragon processors, and your experience with an auto OEM in tackling a huge issue, what other massive social—or business—problems do you think could be addressed with a Snapdragon based solution, whether it be inside of or out of the auto-industry?
XW: For the auto industry, the biggest opportunity is ADAS [advanced driver assistance systems] and autonomous driving, and Snapdragon processors are well suited to tackle the tasks required for this.
The Qualcomm Technologies and Honda collaboration demonstrates how Snapdragon processor V2X technology can be applied to go beyond meeting consumer needs in entertainment, telematics, and communications with infrastructure, to address important driver and pedestrian safety issues. DSRC V2P technology can be applied to make everyone’s commute safer.
Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.