On average, a pedestrian died every 88 minutes in 2017 — accounting for 16% of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Automaker Volkswagen sees its Pedestrian Monitoring technology as part of the solution to this problem.
Volkswagen designed its Pedestrian Monitoring technology as part of its Front Assist system to aid drivers in their ability to stay aware of those on foot, so everyone can safely share the road, according to the automaker.
The technology relies on a small radar that is applied to the front of the vehicle. The radar sweeps points located in an area within approximately 35 degrees and up to about 400 feet ahead of the vehicle — hundreds of times per minute, notes the automaker. Capable of working in daylight and darkness, the system then analyzes the data from the radar for the specific "signature" of pedestrians poised to cross in front of the vehicle or ready to walk away from the vehicle inside the vehicle's path.
Essentially, the Pedestrian Monitoring system slows or halts the vehicle when it senses someone in the roadway. Specifically, when traveling at a speed between 4 and 18.6 mph, and VW's system detects movement in front of the vehicle, it applies automatic braking to slow or stop itself and help avoid a crash.
At higher speeds — between 18.6 and 40 mph — the system works even harder to alert drivers to a walker in its path. First it sends both audible and visual alerts, and if the driver is unresponsive automatic braking engages.
VW notes that its Pedestrian Monitoring does not operate at speeds above 40 mph, and also points out that it may not function in all conditions and environments. For example, dirt or snow may interfere with the radar technology.
Alarmingly, the number of pedestrians dying on the nation’s highways and byways appears to be on the rise. With final reporting and analysis of 2018 traffic deaths still underway, early estimates by NHTSA point to pedestrian deaths increasing 4% over the previous year.