GM researchers are working on technology that will use the Wi-Fi Direct peer-to-peer wireless connection standard to allow smartphones and other connected devices to communicate with cars. Wi-Fi Direct would be integrated with existing driver-assistance systems that use sensor-based object detection to identify pedestrians and others carrying smartphones equipped with a Wi-Fi Direct app that the automaker is also developing.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi Direct has an effective range of just over 200 yards, or roughly more than two football fields. And unlike the type of Wi-Fi you sponge off of at Starbucks, where each user connects to a central access point, Wi-Fi Direct is an ad-hoc network that allows device-to-device connection. “Seven to eight seconds is the amount of time it takes to connect to a Wi-Fi access point,” Donald Grimm, GM’s Global R&D senior researcher of perception and vehicle control systems, told Wired. And even more time if it has to authenticate the user by providing credentials. But with Wi-Fi Direct that time is reduced to one second, according to Grimm, for critical hit-or-miss applications like the one that GM is working on. GM also claims that Wi-Fi Direct has less latency than even cellular networks in order to quickly communicate between two parties on a collision course.
As for the timing of when pedestrians and others could rely on their smartphones to keep from getting mowed down by careless motorists, Grimm says, “We’re probably looking at five years out, or by the end of the decade. We see that we can extend these applications to include pedestrians, bicyclists and other roadside users.”
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