South Korea Installs Laser Beams at a Road Crossing to Warn ‘Smartphone Zombies’ of Traffic
In addition to red, yellow and blue LED lights on the pavement, "smombies" - smartphone zombies - will be warned by laser beam projected from power poles and an alert sent to the phones by an app that they are about to step into traffic
A city in South Korea, which has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, has installed flickering lights and laser beams at a road crossing to warn “smartphone zombies” to look up and drivers to slow down, in the hope of preventing accidents.
The designers of the system were prompted by growing worry that more pedestrians glued to their phones will become casualties in a country that already has some of the highest road fatality and injury rates among developed countries.
State-run Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) believes its system of flickering lights at zebra crossings can warn both pedestrians and drivers.
In addition to red, yellow and blue LED lights on the pavement, “smombies” – smartphone zombies – will be warned by laser beam projected from power poles and an alert sent to the phones by an app that they are about to step into traffic.
“Increasing number of smombie accidents have occurred in pedestrian crossings, so these zombie lights are essential to prevent these pedestrian accidents,” said KICT senior researcher Kim Jong-hoon.
The multi-dimensional warning system is operated by radar sensors and thermal cameras and comes with a price tag of 15 million won ($13,250) per crossing.
Drivers are alerted by the flashing lights, which have shown to be effective 83.4 percent of the time in the institute’s tests involving about 1,000 vehicles.
In 2017, more than 1,600 pedestrians were killed in auto related accidents, which is about 40 percent of total traffic fatalities, according to data from the Traffic Accident Analysis System.
South Korea has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, according to Pew Research Center, with about 94 percent of adults owning the devices in 2017, compared with 77 percent in the United States and 59 percent in Japan.
While the country already has an operational test bed for autonomous cars in Hwaseong, some 60 kilometers south of the capital city, it is not open to the public, and is restricted for vehicle testing and certifications
South Korea on Thursday said it will set up the world’s first 5G-based autonomous car driving test bed in the capital city as it strives to take the lead in future mobility technology.
The Sangam test bed in western Seoul, to officially open Saturday, will have all the necessary infrastructure, such as a recharging station for electric vehicles (EVs), 3-D detailed maps of the road and a “future mobility center” that will act as the overall control tower, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.
The test bed, to be fully opened to the public and be operated 24 hours a day, will be used to conduct and test so-called Cooperative-Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) services based on 5G network communication, Yonhap news agency reported.
5G is the latest wireless communication network capable of superfast connection speeds, low latency and the ability to connect many devices without the system bogging down. The network, coupled with detailed 3-D images and maps of streets and related software, can make it possible for vehicles to be driven without human input.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy was the first country in the world to launch full-fledged 5G services on April 3 and plans to provide coverage to neighborhoods in 85 cities that can benefit 93 per cent of the population by the end of 2019.
The ministry said seven vehicles — four buses and three passenger cars — will be operated on the 1.1-kilometer testing road, and citizens will be allowed to ride in the vehicles so they can see for themselves the ability of self-driving cars to recognise traffic signals, avoid obstacles on the road and ferry people safely from one place to another.
While the country already has an operational test bed for autonomous cars in Hwaseong, some 60 kilometers south of the capital city, it is not open to the public, and is restricted for vehicle testing and certifications. (IANS)