Latest Android Q Beta hints at car crash detection mode on Google Pixel devices

We’ve seen Google add a number of Pixel-exclusive features, and now in the latest Android Q Beta 3, there are hints of a potential car crash detection mode.

Digging by XDA-Developers has found references to this potential safety feature within the Safety Hub app included in the Android Q Beta 3. Some code strings and package names point to the feature with one function set to “automatically launch an alert activity when the device detects you are in a car crash”.

<string name="car_crash_alert_icon_description">Car crash icon</string>
<string name="car_crash_detection_dogfood_title_text">Car Crash Detection Dogfood</string>
<string name="car_crash_dogfood_app_name">Car Crash Dogfood</string>
<string name="car_crash_permission_preference_title">@string/car_crash_permissions_menu_item_text</string>
<string name="car_crash_permissions_menu_item_text">Car Crash Dogfood Permissions</string>
<string name="dogfood_welcome_text">\u0009Welcome to the car crash detection dogfood. In order to properly use this feature, please enable the following permissions. Once you enable them, this dogfood will automatically launch an alert activity when the device detects you are in a car crash.</string>

It is particularly interesting how a Pixel would even detect or work out a crash had occurred. We can only speculate that this could be detected by a sudden stop or change of direction using the accelerometer. Alternatively, the handset could access the camera or microphone to work out just what is going on.

The Pixel GPS could also be used in tandem with directions to work out if a car has suddenly left a road too. We’re sure there are a variety of ways that your phone would be able to decipher if a vehicle had been in a collision. This Android Q car crash mode could also utilize Google’s powerful machine learning tech to get more accurate results, which could then be fed into Google Maps live traffic data.

It’s interesting to see this new safety feature mentioned with the Android Q Beta program, but it will be more intriguing to see if the option comes to future full releases. Google will also have to contend with testing, just how do you test this in the real world? Although if the addition does become almost foolproof or accurate enough, then this Safety Hub could instantly call emergency services if a crash or collision is detected.

This could help reduce the number of road traffic deaths globally simply by being faster than humans at reacting to these sometimes traumatic events. A dedicated mode such as this could genuinely save users’ lives.

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Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter @iamdamienwilde. Email

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