Can self-driving cars predict pedestrian movement?

As advancements in self-driving vehicles are made, we at Carraway wonder about the safety implications to other drivers and pedestrians. 


As the auto industry teaches cars to self-park and legislation begins to allow for autonomous driving, can we also teach our vehicles to keep an eye out for pedestrians and other roadway distractions and potential hazards? 

Research in motion

At the University of Michigan, researchers are teaching self-driving cars to recognize and predict pedestrian movements by honing in on the human gait, body symmetry, and foot placement. 


All of this data is collected through vehicle cameras that capture video of people in motion and uses it to create a 3D computer simulation that subsequently catalogs human movements. It becomes a sort of a playbook for automated vehicles to predict and adapt to human movement on or near roadways.

How smart is it?
This research and data collection allows the vehicles to predict the positions and future locations for pedestrians up to 45 meters from the vehicle. For context, that’s at about the same distance as a city intersection.

While this type of science isn’t necessarily new, it’s methods are improved. Previously, the data collected was only still images and didn’t consider how people move in the real world, in many directions. Something that is of course paramount if we want to ensure driver and pedestrian safety once these cars become commonplace on the roads.

The goal: Greater roadway safety
The purpose of this research is ultimately safety, something that we at Carraway are committed to. We keep tabs on what’s new and innovative in all areas of the vehicle, pedestrian, and cyclist safety so that we can better understand how our operations can complement and adapt to emerging technologies and trends.

When will self-driving cars be on the roads in Canada?
Within Canada, the only province to allow driverless vehicles is Ontario. And did you know that as of January 2019, driverless cars have been permitted on Ontario roads? That said, there are serious restrictions in place.

Those participating in Ontario’s automated vehicle pilot program can test driverless cars on public roadways (with major restrictions to ensure drive and public safety). Currently, BlackBerry’s QNX, Magna, Uber, and the University of Waterloo are testing vehicles, however, they are not yet fully driverless. So for the general public, automated vehicles aren’t yet permitted — nor are they readily available for purchase.

This is technology, and legislation, that we’ll be keeping a close eye on. As will our sister company, Gatsby Valet, as they keep their finger on the pulse of all things automotive innovation.