If Nissan has its way with a technology that it is about to trial in Japan, it could lead to the ultimate in privacy invasion – a giant computer network that tracks all pedestrians and all cars all the time.
The Intelligent Transport System is part of a long-running project at Nissan that aims to vastly improve the safety of its vehicles and the number of collisions they are involved in.
Its latest element calls for car computers to be linked to a central server via a wireless network and pedestrians to do the same through GPS-enabled mobile phones.
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As you may have guessed, the system keeps an eye on pedestrians as they wander around – presumably, like headless chickens – and beams warnings to drivers when it thinks car and pedestrian might cross paths.
Although it sounds like overkill, the trial starting next month to the southwest of Tokyo should provide some useful data.
Nissan says it will analyse how drivers react when they receive warnings of pedestrians in the vicinity and use that to decide how to proceed.
Given that 30 per cent of fatal accidents involve pedestrians, any improvement is likely to go down well with the public regardless of privacy concerns.