- Ford’s industry-leading driver-assist technology portfolio grows with introduction of next-generation features that enable customers to park better and help avoid collisions
- New technologies help drivers steer around slow or stopping vehicles in emergencies and warn drivers going the wrong way against traffic
- New systems are part of the company’s commitment to triple its investment in developing driver-assist technologies. The work builds on wide-ranging technologies already offered on Ford vehicles that help drivers with parking, lane keeping and speed management
- Driver Assist Technologies Infographic (pdf)
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 3, 2016 – Building on its industry leadership in available driver-assist technologies, Ford Motor Company is expanding its offerings with a range of next-generation features designed to ease parking hassles, improve collision avoidance, detect objects in the road and prevent wrong-way driving.
Ford offers more nameplates in the United States with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning with land-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, driver monitoring, adaptive high-beam assist, Blind Spot Information System and advanced parking assistant than any other full-line manufacturer.*
“Driver-assist technologies help us all be better drivers because they enhance our ability to see and sense the road around us,” said Scott Lindstrom, manager, driver-assist and active safety at Ford. “Ford’s investment in research and development is paying off by accelerating innovation to expand our portfolio of driver-assist technologies that deliver functionality and performance that customers will value.”
Cross-traffic alert with braking technology in development at Ford is being designed to help reduce parking stress by detecting people and objects about to pass behind the vehicle, providing a warning to the driver and then automatically braking if the driver does not respond. Rear wide-view camera, on the in-car display, will offer an alternative wide-angle view of the rear of the vehicle. Enhanced active park assist will parallel or perpendicular park at the push of a button.
Other features in development at Ford of Europe’s Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, include systems that steer around vehicles to help avoid high-speed collisions and systems that can warn drivers from traveling the wrong way against traffic.
These new technologies – expected to be available on Ford vehicles within two years – are part of the company’s commitment to triple its investment in developing driver-assist features.
Steering out of trouble
Evasive steering assist is a new technology that can help drivers steer around stopped or slower vehicles to help avoid collisions. Designed to operate at city and highway speeds, it uses radar and a camera to detect slower-moving and stationary vehicles ahead, and provides steering support to enable drivers to avoid a vehicle if a collision is imminent. The system is activated if there is insufficient space to avoid a collision by braking and the driver decides to take evasive action.
Preventing wrong-way driving; taking the stress out of parking
Wrong-way alert technology uses a windshield-mounted camera and information from the car’s navigation system to offer customers visual and audio warnings should they begin driving the wrong direction against traffic.
Enhanced active park assist controls steering, gear selection, and forward and reverse movement to facilitate parking at the push of a button. It can enable a vehicle to automatically enter and exit a parallel parking space, as well as reverse into a perpendicular space.
“Parking is one of the most stressful experiences behind the wheel, and drivers struggling to find suitable parking spaces in urban areas can impact traffic flow,” said Dirk Gunia, supervisor, driver-assist electronics, Ford of Europe. “Technologies like enhanced active park assist will help drivers feel confident about parking in spaces they might otherwise consider too small.”
Cross-traffic alert with braking uses radar sensors to monitor the area behind the vehicle. If the driver is backing out and does not react to the initial warning, the system is designed to automatically apply the brakes.
Rear wide-view camera displays a broad view from the rear of the vehicle on the in-car display, offering similar functionality to the company’s front wide-view camera available for Ford Edge, along with Ford Galaxy and Ford S-MAX in other markets. When reversing, it provides an additional view that enables drivers to see around corners, as well as obstacles and objects approaching from behind the vehicle.
Additional technologies being developed by Ford include:
- Spot lighting technology uses an infrared camera to help detect pedestrians, cyclists and animals – highlighting these potential hazards for drivers
- Camera-based advanced front lighting system widens the headlight beam at intersections and roundabouts after interpreting traffic signs
- Traffic Jam Assist helps the driver keep the vehicle centered in a lane, plus it brakes and accelerates to keep pace with the vehicle in front
Leading the way
Ford already offers a wide range of available driver-assist technologies, with Ford Escape, Taurus, F-150, Fusion and Edge all leading their segments with the most driver-assist features available.*
Ford’s portfolio of driver-assist technology now includes:
- Adaptive cruise control works to slow the vehicle when radar detects traffic slowing ahead; after traffic clears, vehicle resumes its preset speed
- Forward collision warning with brake support uses radar to detect a potential collision with a car ahead; driver is alerted with visual and audio warnings
- Driver Alert computes a driver’s vigilance level and displays it in the instrument cluster upon request; if the vigilance level falters, system offers visual and audio warnings
- Lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist notifies drivers of an unintentional lane departure and applies steering wheel torque to keep the vehicle in its lane
- Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert uses radar to detect vehicles around the car; an indicator lamp on the side-view mirrors lights when detected. When backing up, the system alerts of vehicles approaching from the sides
- Active park assist uses ultrasonic sensors to measure the distance between cars to find a parking space, then helps steer the car into that space
- Automatic high-beam control uses a camera to detect vehicles ahead, then automatically deactivates high-beams
- Hill Start Assist helps the driver start the vehicle on an uphill gradient by holding the brakes; driver moves his or her foot from the brake to the accelerator
- Curve Control senses a driver taking a curve too quickly and responds by rapidly reducing engine torque, applying four-wheel braking when needed
*According to a 2016 SBD study.
STEP ON IT! SMART DEVICE THAT GOES WHERE CARS CAN’T IS AMONG EMPLOYEE INNOVATIONS DESIGNED TO IMPROVE MOBILITY
- Finalists in Ford employee innovation challenge include Carr-E, an electric rideable platform; TriCiti, an electric folding tricycle; and eChair, an electric self-loading wheelchair
- Ford Last Mile Mobility Challenge receives proposals from Ford employees around the world submitting more than 600 electric personal assistant devices for moving people or goods in urban areas
- Number of individual Ford employees registering inventions has reached record levels, with total inventions expected to set an annual record in 2016
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 3, 2016 – An innovative personal transportation system designed to fit neatly into the trunk has made the short list in a Ford challenge to create last-mile mobility solutions – the final leg of a commute between parking a vehicle and destination arrival – for urban areas.
Carr-E – created by Kilian Vas, a Ford systems engineer based in Cologne, Germany – is among 633 proposals for personal mobility solutions submitted by Ford employees as part of the company’s Last Mile Mobility Challenge. The competition challenges employees to develop electric personal assistant devices to make transportation better in areas where vehicles are not permitted or practical – helping commuters reach their destination.
Carr-E can transport people or objects up to 260 pounds, has a range of 14 miles and a top speed of 11 mph. It’s a finalist – along with TriCiti, a folding electric tricycle that can be easily adapted into a shopping cart, dolly or golf cart; and eChair, an electric wheelchair that can autonomously load itself into a vehicle.
“We really need to reinvent the wheel, to find new approaches to mobility,” said Vas. “When developing Carr-E, I was inspired by Ford’s expansion into both an auto and a mobility company, but I’m also aware of how rapidly cities are growing and how getting around urban areas will become more complicated. I really wanted to create a device that makes commuting easier and more fun.”
Vas collaborated with colleague Daniel Hari and his manager Dr. Uwe Wagner, and worked with designers from Ford of Europe and prototyping specialists from RWTH Aachen University to create Carr-E. The four-wheeled device is designed to complement the use of a vehicle and support commuters along the final part of their journey.
It can also be used to transport heavy objects. Users simply place an object on Carr-E and it will follow an electronic transmitter they keep in their possession.
TriCiti, developed by James Neugebauer, Torsten Gerhardt and Robert Spahl – all working in vehicle architecture for Ford of Europe – is designed to be both a rideable device and all-purpose carrying assistant. The foldable machine can be adapted to carry shopping items and even golf bags, and can easily be taken onto public transportation or stored in a vehicle. TriCiti has a range of 19 miles and a top speed of 12 mph.
Gunther Cuypers, Robin Celis and David Longin – engineers at Ford’s Lommel proving grounds in Belgium – developed eChair, a lightweight electric wheelchair with a self-loading solution designed to offer greater independence to people with reduced mobility.
“Innovation and disruption is as much at the heart of how our engineers think now as it was when Henry Ford first set about transforming the way we move,” said Walter Pijls, supervisor, innovation management for mobility, Ford of Europe. “Personal assistant devices can help people cover the final mile of their journey quickly and easily, as well as transport heavy objects they might not be able to carry.”
The acceleration in innovation at Ford – as measured by invention disclosures – is expected to reach record levels in 2016, topping last year’s record of more than 6,000. The number of individual Ford employees creating inventions also has reached record levels since the start of 2015, with more than 3,500 first-time inventors submitting new innovations.