Vehicle-to-Everything Implications of Vehicle-to-Pedestrian Communications
A widely-known topic in mobility is vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication. One of its lesser-known components is vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communication. This technology is designed for enhanced pedestrian safety, but how does it work and where can it be used?
Right of way belongs to pedestrians, no questions asked. Obviously, the rule is in place to protect those most vulnerable as they travel. As mobility tech progresses, vehicle-to-everything communication has filtered in as a bid to keep motorists safe and to prevent collisions. But what about pedestrians and cyclists? What's keeping them out of harm's way as they commute, vacation, walk leisurely, or exercise?
Vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communication is a component of V2X that focuses on protecting those traveling without a steel and aluminum shell. Let's explore its integrations and implementations into the mobility network.
What is vehicle-to-pedestrian?
As a subcategory of V2X, vehicle-to-pedestrian communication further defines a subset. It's the system of identifying and communicating with a segment known as VRUs, or Vulnerable Road Users. Unlike vehicle-to-vehicle communication where two like units can identify and 'talk' to each other, V2P requires a different type of interaction to identify pedestrians accurately and for vehicles to respond properly.
Two main V2P protocols exist:
- In-vehicle systems such as forward collision warning and blind-spot warning can detect non-vehicle traffic in some cases.
- Handheld devices can be used to locate pedestrians in the vicinity and make a motorist aware to avoid a collision. It's the focus of most V2P technologies in development.
The reason that V2P is being developed? In the United States alone in 2019, there were 6,590 pedestrians who perished as a result of being struck by a car—the highest number in 20 years.
Examples of V2P Integrations
Widespread integrations for V2P communication are in development and production. They range from a vehicle physically identifying a pedestrian with onboard sensors in ADAS systems to being warned of a pedestrian who's activated a controlled crosswalk in busy traffic. There are a few real-world developments, however.
Honda Testing V2P with Short-Range Cell Signal
The R&D department at Honda has succeeded in testing Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) technology to identify the presence of a pedestrian with a DSRC-enabled smartphone. Two-way communication can occur in the V2P relationship between the vehicle and the smartphone when it's within range. Honda's testing provided visual and audible warnings for both the driver and the pedestrian to mitigate a potential collision.
The use of DSRC in V2P communications can help assess risk based on the pedestrian's direction of travel and speed, and the vehicle can also be notified if the pedestrian is occupied on their phone and inattentive to traffic.
New York's V2P App
Savari, a pioneer in V2X tech, is deploying a V2P communication system in New York City as part of NYC's Connected Vehicle Project. Known as SmartCross, the project is designed to assist impaired individuals safely cross at an intersection.
Savari has developed a mobility tag to increase location accuracy for the app user, which communicates with road-side units (RSUs) around the city. Impaired pedestrians receive a notification when the traffic signal is theirs. Connected vehicles may be notified of potential conflicts between their vehicle and a pedestrian using the app. This type of technology can greatly enhance the Smart City infrastructure.
Pros and cons of V2P communications
In connected mobility, the overarching themes are reducing traffic, a positive effect on the environment, and avoiding accidents. V2P communication certainly hits on the latter. As urban mobility moves to include options outside of traditional car ownership, safety between vehicles and alternative transportation becomes more important.
There are concerns to address in V2P communication, though. First, the technology is inherently costly as it's under development and will be restrictive for cash-strapped communities. Second, many systems infer that pedestrians have a smartphone equipped with DSRC and/or an app running on their device. Widespread implementation would likely need to start with cell manufacturers.
V2P communication is already in our midst with ADAS systems in modern vehicles, and it will be more prevalent within a community's infrastructure. How far it goes has yet to be seen.