Harman has developed a system using software and existing vehicle sensor hardware to improve the ability to detect pedestrians of all sizes when reversing.
Every year, around 15,000 pedestrians are either killed or injured in the USA as a result of vehicle blind spots, a figure that Harman International Industries aims to reduce significantly through the introduction of new technology that can be easily and cost-effectively deployed using sensor technology that already exists on vehicles.
The software-based innovation uses data from cameras and sensors to detect the presence of pedestrians who around the vicinity of the rear of the vehicle and can even detect the most vulnerable pedestrians between the ages of 12 and 23 months. It is a tragic fact that more than 70% of incidents involving child pedestrians at the rear of the car are caused by parents or relatives of the children.
It was Harman’s senior director of machine learning, Danny Atsmon, who first realised that existing sensor technology was unable to detect his own two-year-old child. This revelation drove Atsmon to create the reverse pedestrian detection technology.
“Despite the introduction of a range of safety technologies found in today’s cars and even with the most attentive drivers, ‘back over’ accidents cause too many deaths and injuries,” he said.
The problem of blind spots has been made worse by the increase in popularity of large 4×4 or SUV equipment in addition to the increased reliance that drivers place on the technology that surrounds them. Harman believes that improvements to this situation can only be achieved through a combination of real-time sensory data with improved driver attentiveness.
The Reverse Pedestrian Detection technology from Harman combines multiple inputs from a fish eye lens camera, ultrasonic sensors, steering wheel angle and speed. Advanced computer vision algorithms then verify the proximity of a pedestrian and calculates probable collision trajectories. Through these advanced computational methods, the system is able to accurately detect pedestrians who are in danger without raising false alarms.
Commenting on the need to gain the correct coverage with the sensors, Atsmon added, “Reversing cameras alone can certainly increase the driver’s field of vision but there is still an area on either side of the car that is not covered and traditional reversing sensors are optimised to detect larger obstacles. No system is infallible and the driver must still take caution, using mirrors or glancing over their shoulder. With Harman’s Pedestrian Detection system, drivers can reverse more safely with confidence.”
Since the Reverse Pedestrian Detection system is software-based, there is no requirement for additional hardware for vehicles already equipped with appropriate sensors and so is available immediately to vehicle manufacturers.
“As we work toward bringing this software to automakers, we have adopted an approach that will enable the software to be housed in existing vehicle infotainment systems to minimise the cost and designed to fit into as many vehicle manufacturers’ products as possible,” concluded Atsmon.