Ford begins real world testing in Europe.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Aug 9, 2012
Ford’s “Tour De Force” of near future safety hardware and software embedded into future vehicles is being prototyped on the road in both Europe and the United States. The inexpensive car to car safety communication capabilities are almost guaranteed to be standard in the cars we will all be driving in the near future.
In 1915, there was just one Mega-city with a population > 10 Million people. That was NY City. Today, there are 21 and the number is expanding year by year. With America’s and in particular Chicago’s traffic congestion worsening, squandered hours, minor and severe accidents, and wasted fuel are quickly becoming some of the more serious transportation problems that need to be solved.
Ford has an “App for that”…
The increasing use of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technology is part of Ford’s “Blueprint for Mobility,” which was outlined by Executive Chairman Bill Ford during his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. The “Blueprint for Mobility” details the company’s early thinking on how to tackle the issues of mobility in an increasingly crowded and urbanized planet between now and 2025.
Ford’s tech in the US allows vehicles to communicate with one another wirelessly using advanced Wi-Fi signals on a secure channel authorized by the FCC. Unlike radar or optical based safety features that identify potential “threats” or hazards with a direct line of sight, Wi-Fi bases systems allow a full 360 degree range of detection including around obstructions and impediments from behind, to the side or ahead.
For example, drivers could be alerted if their vehicle is on path to collide with another vehicle at an intersection, when a vehicle ahead stops or slows suddenly or when a traffic pattern changes on a busy highway. The systems also could warn drivers if there is a risk of collision when changing lanes, approaching a stationary or parked vehicle, or if another driver loses control.
While Ford has been working with and developing these systems for over 10-years, it is the real world that makes or breaks a system. A number of demonstrations experienced firsthand included pulling out into a blind intersection with traffic simulating blowing a red light, passing a slower driver on a two lane road, a driver ahead swerving to avoid hitting a stopped vehicle ahead and you directly behind having to do the same, an emergency stop by a car directly ahead, a lane change with a car in your blind spot (advanced BLIS) and even with a car overtaking you in the lane you have signaled to enter, the audible and visual warning systems worked beyond my expectations this early on development. Not only did the systems work as designed, it would not take every vehicle to have a Wi-Fi emitter/collector in order to make the road a safer place in which to commute.
Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s Chief Technology Officer and VP of Research and Innovation:
“While there are challenges ahead, the foundation of these smarter vehicles is comprised of advanced versions of pervasive technologies – Wi-Fi and crash avoidance systems that Ford has pioneered in mainstream vehicles today. We are not far from the day when vehicles will operate like mobile devices with four wheels, constantly exchanging information and communicating with our environment to keep us safer, shorten commute times, and generally help us more easily navigate life on the road.”
On Monday, Ford began real-world testing of future technologies as part of a research program aimed at advancing car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication on European roads.
Ford 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 “Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany” or simTD. The project’s goal is to better understand the potential for car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication technologies to improve traffic safety and personal mobility.
Engineers from Ford’s European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany and simTD research project partners have tested the developmental technologies in a controlled environment. The technologies will now be tested on public roads in and around Frankfurt in real-world driving conditions.
Technologies being tested as part of the simTD research project 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. Ford is leading the development and integration of this application.
- Obstacle Warning system, which enables a vehicle to inform other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous obstacles on the road.
- Traffic Sign Assistant, which remains in continuous contact with traffic management centers to access up-to-date information on variable 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 based on comprehensive information. This includes identifying likely traffic scenarios and their impact at the point in the journey when they are encountered rather than at the point of departure.
- In-car internet access, which can enable the driver to reserve and pay for parking en-route.
In the US Ford partnered with 7 other automakers, the federal government, as well as local and county road commissions to create a common language that ensures all vehicles can talk to each other based on a common communication standard.
In Europe, the “Future Car-to-Car and Car-to-Infrastructure Communication Technologies” project is supported by infrastructure investment from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs as well as funding from the state of Hessen. The consortium involves representatives from all major interest groups, including Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Opel, Volkswagen, Bosch, Continental, Deutsche Telekom, regional infrastructure operators and German Research Institutions (Technische Universität München und Berlin, Universität Würzburg, Fraunhofer).
The funding for the simTD project is approximately $65.2 million USD, of which $36.9 million USD of direct project support has been provided by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.