LOMMEL, Belgium – Ford has revealed a test car equipped with technology that uses automatic steering and braking to avoid collisions with vehicles that are stopped or slowing in the same lane ahead, or to avoid hitting a pedestrian.
Ford’s “Obstacle Avoidance” technology issues warnings first if it detects slow-moving objects, stationary obstacles or pedestrians in the same lane ahead. If the driver fails to steer or brake following those warnings the system will then automatically steer and brake to avoid a collision. Ford demonstrated the new research technology for the first time this week at the company’s proving grounds in Lommel, Belgium, and a video can be viewed here
Ford has developed a Ford Focus equipped with Obstacle Avoidance as part of a Ford-led and European-funded research project called “interactIVe” (Accident Avoidance by Active Intervention of Intelligent Vehicles). The consortium of 29 partners is developing active safety systems which intervene in case of imminent collisions.
“There are many instances – such as unexpectedly queuing traffic ahead – when this technology could benefit both the driver whose car is equipped with the technology and others on the road,” said Barb Samardzich, vice president, Product Development, Ford of Europe. “The Obstacle Avoidance research project offers an exciting glimpse of a safer future where the risk of some types of accidents could be greatly reduced.”
Obstacle Avoidance technology utilises three radars, ultrasonic sensors and a camera to scan the road up to 200 metres ahead. If the system detects a slow-moving or stationary object it first displays a warning and then sounds a chime. If the driver does not steer or brake, then the Obstacle Avoidance technology applies the brakes, scans for gaps on either side of the hazard, and takes control of the electronic power steering to avoid a collision.
The technology has been tested at speeds of more than 60 km/h (38 mph). Research data reveals that less than a third of drivers involved in rear-end collisions attempt to steer prior to impact**.
“By demonstrating Obstacle Avoidance on the interactIVe research vehicle, Ford is building on existing leading safety technologies to show where we believe further pioneering innovations could take us in the future,” Samardzich said.
Also on display in Lommel is the new Ford S-MAX Concept featuring Ford Intelligent Protection System with Pre-Collision Assist, which identifies pedestrians and automatically applies the brakes if a collision is imminent.
Ford already has introduced active safety technologies to its vehicles including Active City Stop, which uses a light detecting and ranging sensor to monitor traffic in front and scans the road ahead 50 times every second to help prevent collisions at speeds up to 15 km/h, and help reduce the severity of impacts at speeds at speeds of up to 30 km/h. Ford’s Lane Keeping Aid technology features a camera that monitors the position of the vehicle relative to road markings and applies a steering torque to alert the driver if it detects the vehicle drifting out of lane.