US app that alerts smart vehicles to pedestrian activity makes progress

Developers of an app in the US that alerts smart vehicles to pedestrian activity to prevent accidents have partnered with the University of Michigan and is in Ann Arbor SPARK’s accelerator programme to help with further progress and development.

The accelerator programme works to make the region in the US a destination for expanding business and manufacturing development. The non-profit organisation also supports start-up companies and new technologies.

The app, !important, communicates users’ locations to nearby connected vehicles, can alert drivers and trigger vehicles’ brakes automatically to prevent collisions. It is available for free on the Apple and Android app stores.

A French automotive study from 2003 showed pedestrian deaths come from 20 common scenarios that can be categorised into four groups: driver responsibility (35%), visual blockage (28%), unpredictable pedestrian behaviour (26%), and weather conditions (11%). Existing vehicle sensors such as cameras, radars, sonars, and lidars address the first category, and the app is designed to address the other three, said developers.

“This solves the remaining 65% of death cases,” says Bastien Beauchamp, inventor and CEO of !important. “We hope it will become a regulation for the automotive industry.”

Early next year, the technology is slated to be implemented in vehicles on the roads of Reno, Nevada as part of the Intelligent Mobility initiative in collaboration with the Nevada Center for Applied Research at the University of Nevada in Reno.

!important was nominated by Alibaba Jumpstarter 2020 in the Top 30 Startups of Silicon Valley. It is backed by groups of medical doctors and part of the University of California Berkeley Skydeck’s accelerator programs. It collaborates with 12 universities.

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