Concept

A beacon that communicates with the Connected Vehicle network is used to broadcast a “here I am” message to identify the type and location of at-risk pedestrians or other road hazards so that appropriate notice may be presented to approaching drivers for improvement of safety and mobility.  In an alternate configuration the device could function as a transceiver where users can receive notifications of potential hazards.

Users

Potential users for the beacon include, but are not limited to those listed below. Visually or physically challenged pedestrians Those using alternative forms of personal transportation (pedalcyclists,  Seqway or scooter riders) Horse drawn vehicles Roadway maintenance authorities Road crews Equipment Damaged infrastructure (potholes, guard rails, bridges, etc.) School or other special traffic zones

Benefits

The primary benefits of use of such a device is increased safety as conflicts between Connected vehicles and others sharing the roadways would be avoided through timely notification to drivers of the nearby presence of at-risk individuals or road hazards.  Secondary benefits include mobility and the environment since the avoidance of these conflicts would encourage increased use of alternative forms transportation and reduced traffic congestion.

Use Scenario(s)

Use of the beacon would provide potential benefits in any situation where a Connected vehicle might avoid conflict if prior notification of the presence of a nearby beacon were received.  As an example consider a visually impaired pedestrian and Connected vehicle entering a roundabout.  Navigation of a roundabout presents higher demands on both of these users that may increase the likelihood of a conflict occurring.  If a driver was made aware of the presence of the at-risk pedestrian prior to entering the roundabout they would devote more of their attention to addressing that risk.

Operation

The proposed beacon is a small electronic personal device that could be produced at a very low cost.  It would be powered by batteries, utility, a vehicle, or harvested energy depending upon the type of implementation.  This beacon could be integrated into, or attached to, other objects such as canes, bicycles, wheelchairs, signposts, or personal electronic devices.  The beacon could be left on continuously as in the case of pothole notification or configured to activate with movement, as when used by a pedestrian.  It could also be configured by the user for different use scenarios such as use on a pedestrian, at a construction site, or on a vehicle.  Communication of the device with other Connected vehicles or users could be direct or via the Connected Vehicle network as determined by application and data and security requirements.

Communication Requirements

The beacon could incorporate various modes of wireless communication such as DSRC, Wi-Fi, cellular, or Bluetooth.  The device could either communicate with the Connected Vehicle network via DSRC infrastructure nodes, Wi-Fi access points, or cellular.  Direct communication with Connected vehicles could be accomplished by DSRC if desired.  The device’s Bluetooth interface could be used to communicate with the user’s personal electronic device such as a cell phone.  The beacon would have a GPS receiver to provide location and time data.

Implementation

There are a variety of ways that such a device might be used.  In one scenario, the device communicates only as a beacon where a user’s or hazard’s attributes and the corresponding location are transmitted only.  This mode of operation would be particularly useful for construction zones, maintenance equipment, horse drawn vehicles, potholes, etc. Although the beacon as presented above is a transmitter only, primarily in the interest of ensuring affordability, an alternative version of the device, a transceiver with two-way communications capabilities could be utilized in circumstances where the user would benefit from receipt of information.  For instance, the beacon might be built in to the cane of a visually challenged user such that haptic or audible notification could be presented with warning of a potential hazard such as the approach of a silent (hybrid/electric) vehicle or bicycle (Figure 1).  A transceiver of this type would act as a node on the Connected Vehicle network and would be useful to those that utilize means of transportation other than motor vehicles such as cycling, walking, etc.  The ultimate implementation of such a device might well be its integration in personal electronic devices such as mobile phones.  

Figure 1.  Beacon Integrated in the Cane of a Visually Challenged Pedestrian (conceptual)

Attachment(s):   Figure 1. File “Beacon.jpg”

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