Many pedestrians and cyclists look at their phones on the go, so Ford has filed a patent for a phone app that will warn them of a new danger: autonomous vehicles.

    First seen on Jalopnik, the Blue Oval filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in July 2022 for a phone app for “vulnerable road users” that will alert them of the presence of an autonomous vehicle and its intent.

    The term vulnerable road users generally refers to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

    The proposed app in the patent filing includes an augmented reality overlay to communicate what the autonomous vehicle is doing.

    Ford provided a number of different sketch images depicting how the app would work in different scenarios.

    In one image, the phone is held up at eye height and it overlays through augmented reality that it’s safe to cross the road as the autonomous vehicle is stopping for you.

    In another image, it displays a situation where the autonomous vehicle isn’t stopping to let you cross, and features a large ‘X’ overlaid on the screen.

    As is the case with many patents, this phone app isn’t guaranteed to be made but could inform future technologies.

    It makes sense that Ford is patenting such an app as the Blue Oval is a major investor in US-based autonomous vehicle startup Argo AI, along with the Volkswagen Group.

    The autonomous vehicle company is currently testing its hardware on a Ford Escape Hybrid, as well as a Volkswagen ID. Buzz.

    Featuring a raft of camera, radars and a LiDar sensor, the team at Argo AI is able to capture a 360-degree map around the vehicle, day or night.

    Argo has previously claimed its software can detect objects from more than 400 metres away, including pedestrians, cyclists, and moving animals.

    It’s trying to create the “world’s best driver”, according to Argo AI CEO Brian Salesky.

    Ford and the Volkswagen Group aren’t the only automakers investing in autonomous vehicle technology, with others including Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis, Volvo, Nio, BMW, Honda, and General Motors.

    MORE: How autonomous is my car? Levels of self-driving explained

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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