Ford unveils new driver-assist technologies
Building on its experience 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.
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
Ford’s driver-assist functions list
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.