Pedestrians could soon alert Ford drivers with a mobile app

TL;DR: Car companies like Ford are constantly looking for ways to prevent accidents between drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Ford’s latest experimental solution could offer pedestrians a mobile app to better alert motorists to their presence. The technology would use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and complement the company’s Co-Pilot360 system.

Ford plans to unveil a new pedestrian safety system for its latest automobiles this week. It takes the form of a mobile app that pedestrians use to alert Ford drivers’ infotainment dashboards without relying on line of sight. The app uses BLE to communicate with vehicles that support Ford SYNC, letting drivers know if a pedestrian or cyclist is nearby. Finally, it could also warn drivers of construction sites.

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The technology leverages T-Mobile’s 5G Advanced Network Solution with hyperscale computing. Bluetooth Low Energy allows the system to work without pairing devices and has negligible power requirements. Ford plans to demonstrate it September 18-22 at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) World Convention in Los Angeles.

Some Ford cars already use the company’s Co-Pilot360 system for the same purpose, but the new app could make it more effective. Co-Pilot360 uses sensors on equipped vehicles to help drivers react to traffic and pedestrians with automatic braking, automatic high beams, lane centering, intersection assist, and other features. The mobile app could alert drivers to people behind obstacles such as buildings or steep hills.

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Another accident prevention concept solution proposed by Ford and Designworks in 2020 was a jacket that cyclists could wear to display emojis to motorists. Users could use a handlebar-mounted wireless remote to display three emojis on the back of the coat: a neutral face, a happy face, and an angry face. The system could also display useful symbols such as turn signals and a hazard symbol. Since then, there has been little to no information as to when or if the jacket might be available.

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This week Ford also updated its current policy of selling vehicles missing certain non-essential features to cope with the ongoing chip shortage. By the end of the third quarter, the company expects 40,000 to 45,000 cars to be affected — mostly high-margin, high-demand models of SUVs and trucks. Owners can have these missing functions retrofitted at service centers free of charge.

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