Vehicle-to-pedestrian communication – a key enabler to vehicle autonomy
As the larger industry remains unsure and indecisive on V2X communication standards, a hybrid V2P system that involves vehicles and VRUs communicating with each other directly as well as indirectly through infrastructure, is perhaps the best bet to pedestrian safety
As research and development (R&D) around vehicle autonomy continues worldwide, another set of complementary technology—vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication—is quickly gathering momentum. While locally installed hardware, such as radar, lidar, camera and ultrasonic sensors, enables a vehicle to immediately sense and respond to what is around it, V2X communication provides intelligence beyond the vehicle’s short-range environment. V2X is an umbrella term that encompasses vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), and vehicle-to-network (V2N) communication. This article will focus on the importance of V2P communication in the world of self-driving vehicles. The term V2P encompasses a broad set of road users, including people walking, children being pushed in strollers, people using wheelchairs or other mobility devices, passengers embarking and disembarking buses and trains, and people riding bicycles or motorcycles, among others. All these people can be considered as vulnerable road users (VRUs), i.e., all nonmotorized road users with disabilities or reduced mobility and orientation, who bear the highest fatality or injury risk in the event of a traffic collision. V2P communication can contribute to VRU safety by allowing vehicles and pedestrians to exchange information. However, it is largely affected by the reliability of the exchanged information, which is usually the GPS data. A typical V2P communication–based crash prevention system involves periodic exchange of safety messages among vehicles and VRUs. It performs its operation in three phases—detection, tracking and trajectory prediction, and action. It is primarily the camera that detects pedestrians on today’s autonomous cars as other sensors are not deemed reliable for the purpose.