The next phase of a massive federal study on connected car technology will focus as much on the people surrounding cars as the vehicles themselves.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, which is administering the study with funds from the US Department of Transportation, are placing an emphasis on protecting vulnerable road users as they develop and test new traffic systems.

For good reason: Even as the overall number of traffic fatalities in America has declined over the past decade, the number of pedestrian, motorcyclist and bicyclist deaths have all increased for three consecutive years. Together, the three groups comprised 31 percent of all traffic deaths in 2012, the latest year for which data is available.

Automakers and researchers have searched for ways to address the problem. While it's not an immediate solution, Jim Sayer, a research assistant in the human factors group at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, says technology that protects the most vulnerable will evolve alongside connected-car technology.

On Tuesday, Sayer said the next stage of protecting pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists lies in creating chips and apps for cell phones that can monitor and communicate the position of all road users in a connected-car environment. As part of the upcoming Michigan study, he'll work on enhancing such technology and determining how various users might issue warnings to each other.
USA New York Bike Messenger Making Delivery Through Traffic on a City Street

"We're working on cell phones that can broadcast your position up to 10 times per second, and working on algorithms that determine if you are walking, in a car, riding in a bike line or whatever, and broadcast accordingly," Sayer said.

In a previous iteration of Michigan's connected car study, which ran from August 2012 to August 2013, researchers equipped pedestrians and a bicyclist with devices that produced similar data, but when the continuation of the study kicks off in August 2014, they will concentrating on producing the data from cell phones.

"The chips will be built into cell phones," Sayer said. "There are other devices you can carry around with you, but the problem is that people don't remember them or don't want to keep charging them. ... The battery is going to be dead when they need it the most."

The Department of Transportation is expected to release findings and recommendations from the first study a matter of days. The next phase of the study will run for three years and be completed in 2017.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      rlog100
      • 9 Months Ago
      So let's GPS chip everyone and get it over with?
      Winnie Jenkems
      • 9 Months Ago
      PUT THE SMARTPHONE DOWN LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE CROSSING THE STREET
      Big Squid
      • 9 Months Ago
      You cannot be trusted with your own safety. The government is here to help.
        Joeviocoe
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Big Squid
        Actually, "other people" cannot be trusted with your safety.... hence the primary reason for government that both Left and Right can agree on. The whole basis for the military and law enforcement.... and the reason why drivers need licensing.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Government is made up of people. When someone is wearing a uniform, they automatically have a higher level of trust.. is that how it works? :)
          Joeviocoe
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Soylent Government: It's made out of People!
        Ryan
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Big Squid
        Governments are who design the roads and the bike trails. I have never come close to being hit by a car on the bike path.
      jesscott
      • 9 Months Ago
      Ya know, in the good ol days stupid people just died because they were stupid. Thereby never reproducing and guaranteeing the maintenance of the human race as an order of the strongest and smartest. We have destroyed the natural selection process. I weep for our future
        Joeviocoe
        • 9 Months Ago
        @jesscott
        What process of "natural selection" features a species being killed by our own inventions? The CAR is NOT a natural predator.... it is a 100 year blip in our collective history... and will in no way shape our evolution as species. We will simply evolve the car to be independent of our human tendency for error.
        Gene Mack
        • 9 Months Ago
        @jesscott
        That's a reasonable position. Let's see if you keep it when your kids get run over crossing the street. Everyone has a mental slip. You can feel you are smart, therefore would never get hit by a car. But think back in your life (how ever long and short as it has been) and tell me you haven't almost got hit by a car doing something stupid. On top of that, have some vision - now that the car knows where it is and where you are, the car itself can avoid you. How many drunk drivers, or drivers that fell asleep, or drivers that have had medical emergencies, have veered off the road and hit a pedestrian that wasn't even in the street? How is that your "natural selection"? And by the way, "survival of the fittest", or "strongest", or "smartest", is not, nor ever was, part of the teachings of evolution. It's a corruption of the theory by people not smart enough to actually understand the theory. Just keep that in mind when you spout it off in public.
      jebibudala
      • 9 Months Ago
      I propose an idea (and hope it becomes law) that any vehicle and pedestrian in close proximity are text alerted a notification that an approaching vehicle or pedestrian is in the area. It should also text you when the vehicle and/or pedestrian are no longer in the vicinity so you can resume your driving and/or walking.
      Cruising
      • 9 Months Ago
      What gets me though when pedestrians cause motorists to have accidents because of their own ignorance to traffic laws the motorists gets treated like a criminal. And before you whiners come out "oh your in two tons of metal blah blah blah" think about how many motorist have been injured or even killed trying to avoid pedestrians that were ignorant to the road or in some cases those with malicious intent like the stories of people throwing rocks off of a bridge onto a highway. The law is to lax on pedestrians, they should also be held more accountable if they cause accidents, stiff fines or even jail time.
        Joeviocoe
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Cruising
        Very few motorists are injured or killed trying to avoid pedestrians. That is because where pedestrians are near enough to suddenly wander into traffic.. the typical vehicle speeds are low enough that even swerving out of the way into a fire hydrant wont cause serious injury. Maybe a airbag blackeye.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 9 Months Ago
      Traffic deaths are down in the past 3 years.. Well duh. The workforce participation rate continues to drop after 2008; 7 million people are no longer in the workforce despite an expanding population. ( source: bureau of labor statistics ) More people are telecommuting too. No thank you to this idea. All these great ideas that are proposed to improve our lives typically turn out abusive. We fell for the TSA, hook line and sinker and aren't any safer since.. we fell for the NSA a long time ago and found that our sense of privacy is violated.. i don't want government 'keeping me safe' in my car, thank you very much.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 9 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        We were also sold on the idea of red light cameras by city and state governments. Some studies have shown that those increase injuries and deaths, but those things are still operating as cute little profit centers in many cities who would rather take the money than think about your safety.
      kingrat001
      • 9 Months Ago
      The latest idiotic thing people, mostly kids do is ride bikes, with no lights on them, and a couple of times, no reflectors, dressed in black, at midnight. There is one road I go down on the way to work, and sure enough, a couple of days ago, I saw my first bozo of the year, wobbling down the road, against traffic. I didn't bother calling 911 this time, since my past calls didn't change a damn thing. I've never hit anyone, but I did come close once last fall. I don't know why so many of them, I've seen groups of six doing it at once, do it, but I wish they would smarten up.
    • Load More Comments