Between replying to WhatsApp messages, posting photos on Instagram, selecting songs on Spotify and catching ’em all on Pokemon Go, smartphones can be very distracting.
So distracting, in fact, that one car maker is taking special measures to stop pedestrians who are glued to their gadgets from getting run over.
Ford has announced that it is introducing a new technology that enables vans to detect people in the road, and automatically apply the brakes if the driver is too slow to respond.
The pedestrian detection technology processes information from a radar located in the bumper, and a camera mounted on the windscreen.
A database of “pedestrian shapes” enables the system to distinguish people from objects such as trees and road signs, and can even predict when people may stray from the pavement and into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
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“It only takes a split second for a delivery driver to check an address – but that can be just the moment when an unwary pedestrian steps into the street,” said Gregor Allexi, active safety engineer, Ford of Europe.
“In cases like this, Pedestrian Detection technology can help to avoid an accident, or reduce its severity.”
According to official data from the European Road Safety Observatory, more than 70,000 pedestrians lost their lives on European roads between 2004 and 2013.
Ford recently surveyed 10,000 people across Europe to better understand the issues of distracted pedestrians crossing roads, and 57% of smartphone users surveyed admitted using their devices when crossing the road.
The company’s emergency braking system – called Pre-Collision Assist – functions in a series of stages.
If the system detects a pedestrian and determines that a collision has become imminent, the driver will first receive an audible alarm and visual warning on the instrument cluster.
Should the driver fail to respond, the system then shortens the time required to apply the brakes by reducing the gap between brake pads and discs.
If there is still no response from the driver, the brakes are applied automatically and the vehicle speed is reduced.