Isn’t There A Basic Flaw With This Design?

Car maker General Motors says it is working on a smart phone application that will let cyclists and pedestrians automatically warn a driver once they get close.


According to GM, the Wireless Pedestrian Detection Technology is based on Wi-Fi Direct, a computer networking standard that allows smartphones to swap information without needing a wireless hotspot to connect them.

Yes, it clearly requires the driver to either be operating his own smartphone (illegal while driving) or paying rather too much attention to other onboard display equipment:

The car maker’s researchers say the system can integrate with “other sensor-based object detection and driver alert systems already available on production vehicles” to alert drivers within a second when they approach a cyclist or pedestrian with a smartphone loaded with the wireless technology.

What’s wrong with the good old Mk I Eyeball?

Surely making drivers reliant on their various electronic devices to the exclusion of actually looking ahead and judging hazards is a bad thing?

A poor use of technology, not a good one?

I expect this is something Longrider will have a view on!

It is already working on a downloadable app for high-risk road users such as bike-based couriers and roadwork crews.

Great! We’ll train drivers to assume that everyone has a smartphone capable of broadcasting this information so they don’t need to drive with as much due care and attention!

What could possibly go wrong?

12 comments for “Isn’t There A Basic Flaw With This Design?

  1. August 8, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Car maker General Motors says it is working on a smart phone application that will let cyclists and pedestrians automatically warn a driver once they get close.

    Look, you ride ahead. turn around and make eye contact with the driver, signalling your exact intentions. Then keep TF out of their way over to the left and let them go through. Simples.

    • David A. Evans
      August 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      I think Longrider may have an opinion about staying to the left too.

      As a car driver, I say, if you have to ride on the roads, make yourself wide, ride well away from the kerb so the car drivers will see you and be forced to manoeuvre around you, screw what the car drivers think, you want to stay alive.

      That one metre band at the side of the road makes you a target to be squeezed into the kerb, it is the one place on the road that you don’t want to be on.


      • August 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm


  2. August 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    You are right, I do have an opinion and it starts with “fuckwits…”

    • August 9, 2012 at 7:11 am


  3. Mudplugger
    August 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    A very bad plan. It’s another step on the way of creating an expectation of being warned about any hazard, therefore no need to make your own assessment because if it’s dangerous, you’ll be told about it.

    This is already evident in the proliferation of excessive traffic management signage, encouraging drivers to watch for the signs, rather than the road all around them. Seat belts, air-bags, crumple-zones etc. are all part of the same direction – if you don’t need to stay aware of hazards, or if the consequences are mitigated, then why bother to take care. Just turn up the iPod and drive.

    Younger drivers are certainly affected by this ‘controlled awareness’ problem – we 40year+ driving veterans with more than a million miles on the clock had to learn differently, and hence remain safer.

  4. Tatty
    August 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Oh dear. My brother has just given me a mountain bike and I was going to buy a little basket for the handlebars.

    Looks like I’m going to need a small child armed with a sub-machine gun to sit in it.

    That counts as sensor-based object detection, right ? 😐

  5. August 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    In remotely populated areas you would just turn the ******* thing off anyway because it would be constantly bleeping whereas in sparse areas the unusual bleep would get you looking for a text or something and hey-ho flat cyclist.

    And wouldn’t someone go with the defence “the onboard sensor failed to warn me and it is therefore the machine’s fault, so sue the manufacturer” etc

    • August 9, 2012 at 7:12 am

      In the US, where someone once sued a RV manufacturer because he stuck on cruise control and then popped into the back of the vehicle to make coffee!? Almost certainly.

      It’ll be a fun lawsuit, at any rate… 😉

  6. Voice of Reason
    August 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I just went to a set of talks on cognition and memory. The reason why so many cyclists and pedestrians get hit is that drivers do not see them, due to the way that we process visual information.

    • August 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      It’s called not looking properly. 😈

    • David A. Evans
      August 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      I’m assuming it’s the same reason as for mid-air collisions in that the thing you’re going to hit doesn’t move in your field of vision.

      EDIT: and yes Longrider, it’s corrected by changing the way you look.


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