JW sends me this link from Technology Review and writes “If the sensors and technology for collision avoidance systems can be implemented on smart phones it seems a disruptive way to move robotic vehicle technology forward. It bypasses the vehicle manufacturers and potentially the regulators. Clearly the app does not result in a robotic vehicle, but it may further public acceptance and allow the collection of comparative crash record data, two issues which are much more important than the technology and software in my view.”
App Provides Extra Eyes on the Road – Technology Review:
iOnRoad for Android detect and tracks cars on the road ahead using a phone’s camera and machine vision software. It also draws on a phone’s GPS, accelerometer, and orientation sensors to calculate the distance to other cars, and the speed at which they are traveling.
Just place your device in a mount on the dashboard and start up the app. Then your phone will diligently watch the road ahead, and beep a warning if you get too close to the vehicle ahead, alerting you to hastily brake before any damage occurs.
iOnRoad is a clever idea, and it highlights just how powerful and capable smart phones have become. Just few years ago, such an app would struggle on the fastest smart phone.
In practice, however, I found it a bit distracting. During a drive to Cape Cod last week, with the phone mounted beneath the GPS, my windshield felt cluttered. I kept glancing at the phone whenever a car outline changed from green to yellow (depending on how close I was), in addition to checking the GPS. With continued use of the app my eyes would probably stop drifting over to check how far away each vehicle was. Thankfully, I didn’t get into any near-collisions, and the road was pretty traffic-free.
The app can also work in background mode, so it’ll only sound and show a warning if it detects an imminent collision. So iOnRoad could run behind a GPS app while driving.
The Israeli company behind the app, Picitup, has previously created vision recognition software for to automatically cataloging products (which eBay uses). At first, iOnRoad will be free; and it will be available next month.