As pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and the differently-abled know, sharing the road has inherent risks. Distracted drivers, car doors that suddenly swing open, vehicles making abrupt lane changes, and now automobiles and trucks with no drivers at all.; they all put us at risk. It doesn’t matter how vigilant a person is, every time you head out onto the streets, you’re putting your life in the hands of people and technology over which you have no control.
But now, entrepreneur and inventor, Bastien Beauchamp, has set out on a mission to change this paradigm and potentially save a million lives over the next decade. His new app, !important, is the first of its kind and could be a revolution in on-road safety if he achieves his objective of having the technology integrated into a significant number of vehicles.
A Game Changer for Pedestrian, Bicyclist and Motor-Cycle Safety
The app’s premise is smart but simple; notify drivers and autonomous vehicles that you’re in the vicinity. The !important app communicates the user’s location to nearby connected vehicles. The technology alerts drivers to your presence and can even trigger vehicles’ brakes automatically to prevent a collision with an approaching person, bicyclist, or motorcyclist.
“Until now,” says Bastien, the founder and CEO of !important, “aside from being vigilant, or using high-visibility clothing or accessories, there has been little non-vehicular travelers could do to protect themselves on the road. My app is a bit like a digital safety-belt. !important provides drivers with an early-warning system, alerting both human operators as well as AI-controlled vehicles to the presence and precise location of hard to see and less predictable travelers.”
Today, whether you’re a driver interested in reducing the risk that you’ll be involved in a collision, or a pedestrian, cyclist, or motor-cycle enthusiast who believes in taking proactive steps to remain safe, !important’s new application can be a game-changer.
In addition to announcing its free app release on both the App and Google Play stores, the company is taking its first steps towards integration into our transportation system.
The company announced a pilot program starting in 2021; the technology will be implemented in vehicles on the roads of Reno, Nevada (USA) as part of the Intelligent Mobility (IM) initiative in collaboration with the Nevada Center for Applied Research (NCAR) at the University of Nevada in Reno.
The Director of NCAR, Carlos G. Cardillo, remarked that “The !important app will increase the safety of vulnerable road users and the acceptance of autonomous vehicle infrastructure by minimizing potential dangers.”
!important is also working with several automotive and truck manufacturers to integrate their technology into vehicles that have semi or fully-autonomous systems. Integrating !important’s technology into cars will allow vehicles to receive input directly from the app, alert them to pedestrians and other travelers, and where necessary, automatically applying the vehicle’s brakes when the systems sense a potential collision.
Tara Andringa, Executive Director of Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE), summed it up well: “… a key issue is how we will ensure pedestrian safety in an automated vehicle (AV) world. !important is tackling this problem of pedestrian safety, and their mobile app seeks to enhance road safety by improving communication between pedestrians and other road users.”
When asked what inspired the idea for this life-protecting product, CEO Bastian Beauchamp says, “When I heard about the fatal accident where the autonomous Uber vehicle hit a bicyclist, it woke me up. I kept thinking about the victim’s friends and family. Then I realized that there were hundreds of thousands of self-driving vehicles on the road within a few years. I thought that someone should do something, and then I decided that someone should be me.”
The !important app is free for download from the Google Play Store and the App Store or directly from !important
!important was nominated by Alibaba Jumpstarter 2020 in the Top 30 Startups of Silicon Valley. !important is a company backed by groups of medical doctors and is part of the University of California Berkeley Skydeck and Ann Arbor SPARK accelerator programs. It collaborates with 12 universities.