How Google is Using AI for Car Crash Detection in the Google Pixel

To say that AI is a controversial topic would be a bit of an understatement. To some people, it’s an incredible step forward in technology and promises to make life easier and more enjoyable for millions (or billions).

To others, it is a dangerous step toward an uncertain future where humans are serving their robot overlords. That’s quite a different vision, to be sure.

Regardless of personal opinions and perspectives, there is one thing that almost everyone can agree on – using AI to improve human safety is one of the best ways to leverage this technology. One such example of that type of AI use is the Car Crash Detection function in the Google Pixel phone. Let’s take a closer look below at how that works and why it is such a great use of modern technology.

Timely Assistance Is Critical in an Emergency

Every minute is vital in an emergency situation where someone has been injured. It’s possible for injuries that otherwise wouldn’t be life-threatening to turn into a dire situation simply because too much time passes without medical attention. And while getting help on a busy freeway in the middle of rush hour might not take long, not all car crashes happen with so many people around. Crashes that happen at night, or in remote areas, may see many hours pass before anyone is notified that something is wrong.

Using a Phone May Not Be Possible

There is some degree of comfort that comes with carrying a smartphone everywhere you go. While you might not think of it this way, you always have a lifeline with you that can be used to reach out for help. And, in many situations, you would be able to quickly call emergency services and get that assistance.

But it’s not always possible to use your phone in an emergency, and a car crash is a perfect example of such a scenario. If you are injured in a crash, you might not be physically able to use your phone. Or, you might be in a position where the car is damaged in a way that makes it impossible to reach the phone and send a message. Whatever the case, your phone could be rendered useless to you at that moment – unless it has been trained to call for help on its own.

How It Works

It’s the combination of the features already built into the Google Pixel phone along with the ability of AI to learn from vast sets of data that enables Car Crash Detection to work so effectively.

The Google team that designed this function used real and simulated car crash data to train an algorithm to understand what conditions are likely to be present in a significant crash. Specifically, the algorithm was tuned to look for crashes that occurred at around 25 MPH or higher, as these are the most likely to lead to serious injuries.

When the conditions of a crash are detected using data from the accelerometer, GPS, and microphone, the Car Crash Detection function will be activated. If the user doesn’t disable the function within 60 seconds, notifications will be sent out automatically. Not only will emergency services be notified of the event, but alerts can also be sent to your emergency contacts. And, since the phone will be able to share location data, emergency responders won’t need any other information to be able to find you and render aid.

Activating This Feature on Your Phone

If you own a Google Pixel phone, you may wish to activate this feature on your device to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing it is watching out for you. Also, it’s a great option to enable on phones your loved ones use, especially children who have reached driving age.

Activating this feature is as easy as heading to the Safety app on your phone. With that app, tap on “Features” and find Car Crash Detection. Select “Set Up”, and approve the prompts that request you to share your location and share your microphone and physical activity. That’s it. You’ll now have this function enabled, and while you hope to never use it, having it running in the background is a nice piece of insurance.

Creating a Safer Future

The best possible outcome on the road is to stay out of a car crash entirely. If one should occur, however, it can literally be a lifesaver to have technology like Car Crash Detection on your side. If AI can continue to help companies develop these kinds of innovative safety solutions, the world can be a safer place for all of us.


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