Ford patents an app that notifies pedestrians when vehicles fail to stop | Rare Techy


The automaker says it’s just a patent right now and not a product plan, but we still have a few questions about the technology

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Buckle up, readers — Ford’s latest patent has a lot of unpacking that’s peculiar. Ready? In July 2022, Ford filed a patent for a smartphone app that allows self-driving cars to communicate with pedestrians through their phones. Half a point is awarded for attempting to reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.

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US Patent 11396271 explains that it would to alert “protected road users” (read: pedestrians) to the presence of an autonomous vehicle nearby. An autonomous vehicle (AV) would communicate its intentions to the pedestrian via an “augmented reality” overlay on their phone and gather information through machine learning to trigger an “impact event prediction that indicates a future impact between the AV and the mobile device. “

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Simply put: the app tells you when an autonomous car actually not stop for you. Yes.

First, if you’re distracted by your phone while walking or crossing the street, you’re contributing to a potential crash where, most of the time, several thousand pounds of moving metal destroys bones and skin.
To accommodate each parent, look both ways before crossing the street and always obey traffic safety rules and laws.
Whether you’re walking, jogging, running, cycling, pushing a pram/cart, etc., for God’s sake, keep your head up and feel your surroundings.

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Second, the app only communicates in one direction (no, we’re not referring to you, Harry Styles). The application user cannot interact with the AV. It wouldn’t matter if it could, because I imagine it’s a matter of seconds to get an alert, process it, react to it, and then hopefully not get hit. There just wouldn’t be time to respond to an app that says, “Lol, please don’t hit me!”

Here’s the scary part; instead of the AV stopping when it senses a pedestrian is near the mobile device, this app simply shares the AV’s next moves and expects you can react accordingly. Hopes. You. You can. React. According to that. Imagine being in the driver’s seat, driving a car, seeing a pedestrian glued to their phone as they walk onto or across the road, and the car fails to avoid them?

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We are in a “Big Brother” society where almost everything is being filmed or recorded at any moment, so if there are many phones in a dense urban area, whatever or whoever is on AV will be photographed or filmed. Furthermore, on the privacy side, where, by whom and for how long is phone-connected vehicle data stored?

Image from a 2022 Ford patent for a pedestrian application
Image from a 2022 Ford patent for a pedestrian application Ford photo via US Patent Office

What does Ford have to say about this? Like recent Jalopnik article, the Blue Oval reported “Ford is a leading automotive innovator and files patents for new inventions as a normal business activity. Patent applications do not necessarily refer to confirmed production plans.

Still with me? Good. In closing, your eyes are your best safety tool as a pedestrian – not an app that tells you that an autonomous vehicle is likely to hit you.


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