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Ford takes future tech to streets

2012-08-07 10:01

HEADS UP: Ford and its partners are testing their car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication technologies on European roads.

Ford has begun testing its future technologies in the real world as part of a research project that intends to advance car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication on European roads.

Paul Mascarenas, Ford's vice-president for research and innovation, said: "Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications represent the next major advancements in vehicle safety.

"Ford is committed to further real-world testing around the world with the goal implementation in the foreseeable future."


Ford has contributed 20 specially equipped S-Max models to a 120-vehicle fleet being used to test 20 experimental driver assistance technologies as part of the four-year research project, called "Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany" or simTD.

Experts believe roads could be made safer and traffic congestion reduced by using mobile communications technology to connect vehicles to each other and with transport infrastructure.

Engineers from Ford’s European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany, and simTD research project partners have already tested the technologies in a controlled environment; now they will be tested on public roads in and around Frankfurt.

Christian Ress, technical expert at Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, said: "The vehicles will cover thousands of kilometres in test drives and evaluations to gather research data from everyday driving."

Technologies being tested include:

Electronic Brake Light, which delivers a message from the lead vehicle to a following vehicle if an emergency braking procedure is carried out, even if the incident occurs out-of-sight, for example around a bend in the road.

Obstacle Warning system, which enables a vehicle to inform other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous road obstacles.

Traffic Sign Assistant
, which remains in continuous contact with traffic management centres to access up-to-date information on speed limits, temporary restrictions and diversions, as well as providing details of current and approaching permanent regulations, such as fixed speed limits and right of way.

Public Traffic Management
, which provides exact traffic prognosis including identifying likely traffic scenarios and their effect at the point in the journey when they are encountered rather than at the point of departure.

In-car Internet access
, which, for example, can enable the driver to reserve and pay for parking en-route.

Ford is no stranger to such tech: in 2004 it collaborated with the US’s Minnesota Department of Transportation to equip 100 vehicles with sensors to collect traffic-related data, including vehicle speed, location and even local weather.

The increasing use of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technology is part of Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility outlined by executive chairman Bill Ford during his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, in February, 2012.

The Blueprint for Mobility details the automaker’s early thinking on how to tackle the issues of mobility in an increasingly crowded environment between now and 2025.

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