Driver-Assist Technologies

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Ford vehicles feature an array of new driver-assist and convenience technologies.


Ford’s popular and award-winning SYNC® system, powered by Microsoft®, is one such technology. Numerous studies show that hands-free multimedia devices offer benefits compared to hand-held devices. The benefits are seen in driving performance as well as object and event detection. Ford SYNC provides a way for drivers to use cell phones and MP3 players through voice commands alone, while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. Ford SYNC is now available with “Traffic, Directions and Information,” a subscription service that allows drivers to access traffic reports and turn-by-turn directions, all via voice command. Ford SYNC was launched in late 2007 and is now available on nearly every vehicle from Ford and Lincoln in North America. Please see the case study for more on how SYNC helps to further reduce driver distraction.

MyFord Touch™

In 2010, Ford introduced the new MyFord Touch™ driver connect technology – an all-new user interface that delivers a smarter and simpler way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives. MyFord Touch, along with MyLincoln Touch™, was developed after a thorough review of current interior design – and its limitations – considering the abundance of new and emerging technologies. After studying vehicle communications trends and the ways drivers were using technology inside their vehicles, it was evident that the current way of interacting with car and truck technology was rapidly becoming obsolete.

The MyFord Touch user interface replaces many of the traditional vehicle buttons, knobs and gauges, and is designed to increase focus on driving while providing access to information, entertainment and connectivity features. The system includes a next-generation, state-of-the-art voice recognition system with nearly 10,000 available commands, and clear, large, color LCD displays, along with two five-way controllers on the steering wheel. These features encourage drivers to maximize the time their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. And although the user interface is all new, it should not feel unfamiliar, as it is based on the fundamentals of Ford’s award-winning navigation system, as well as the SYNC user interface.

MyFord Touch launched on the 2011 Ford Edge and goes global with availability on the 2012 Focus. MyLincoln Touch will be standard equipment on new Lincolns beginning with the 2011 MKX.

Rearview Camera

Ford’s Rearview Camera can enhance rear visibility, as well as assist with actions that require reverse maneuverability such as parallel parking and hitching trailers. The system uses an exterior camera embedded in the rear of the vehicle that sends images to a video display in the rearview mirror or the navigation system screen. These images can help improve visibility directly behind the vehicle when the vehicle is in reverse. The camera image is overlaid with lines that mark the width of the vehicle, which makes it easier to gauge distance and navigate in reverse. The system also increases visibility in low light by using a low-light-capable camera and high-intensity reverse taillights. The Rearview Camera is offered on most of Ford’s vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking mandating rearview cameras and displays meeting specified criteria by September 1, 2014, on all vehicles with less than a 10,000 lb. gross vehicle weight rating.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) helps drivers maintain a pre-set distance from the vehicle in front of them. It is one of the innovations now available on the 2011 Ford Taurus, Explorer and Edge; the Lincoln MKS, MKX and MKT; and the Ford Mondeo, S-MAX, Galaxy and new Focus in Europe. While primarily a comfort and convenience feature, Adaptive Cruise Control also contributes to more controlled driving when traffic flow is uneven. The ACC module is mounted at the front of the vehicle and uses radar to measure the gap and closing speed to the vehicle ahead. The system automatically adjusts the speed of the car to help maintain a pre-set distance from the vehicle in front. Ford was the first manufacturer to launch radar-based ACC several years ago.

Collision Warning with Brake Support

In driving situations that present a high risk of collision with the vehicle in front, Ford’s Collision Warning with Brake Support technology activates a visual and audible warning. In addition, the brake system is pre-tensioned and the “servo boost” assistance system is modulated to provide faster brake performance, if required by the driver. Range and speed information is sensed with long-range radar mounted on the front of the vehicle. Collision Warning with Brake Support can be activated or deactivated as the driver wishes, and it may alert the driver if the sensor becomes blocked by snow, ice or mist. This technology is available in the U.S. on the Ford Taurus, Edge and Explorer and the Lincoln MKS, MKX and MKT, and in Europe on the Ford Mondeo, S-MAX, Galaxy and Focus.

Blind Spot Information System

Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) is designed to help inform the driver when a vehicle is detected in the “blind spot zone.” The system uses two radar sensor modules that are mounted behind the left- and right-hand side of the rear bumper. BLIS is active above 10 km/h (about 6 mph) and is even capable of detecting motorcycles in some cases.

Cross Traffic Alert

Cross Traffic Alert is designed to assist the driver when other parked vehicles may obscure the driver’s view of traffic while backing out of a parking space. To assist the driver while slowly backing up, the BLIS sensors in the corners of the rear bumper can detect approaching vehicles. A warning chime will sound, an amber light will display in the outside mirror on the appropriate side of the vehicle and a text message will inform the driver of the situation.

In North America, both BLIS and Cross Traffic Alert are available on the Ford Fusion, Taurus, Edge and Explorer, as well as on the Lincoln MKZ, MKX and MKT. In Europe, BLIS is available on the Ford Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy as well as the new Ford Focus and C-MAX.

Lane Keeping Alert

Lane Keeping Alert (previously called Lane Departure Warning) is designed to warn the driver, via a vibration in the steering wheel, when the front-view camera detects that an unintentional lane departure is likely to happen. The front-view camera continuously monitors the road ahead and evaluates where the car is in relation to the lane markings. If the driver uses the turn indicator, or the driving situation suggests an intended lane change, the warning is suppressed. Lane Keeping Alert is deactivated at speeds below 38 mph, so as not to interfere in urban stop-and-go conditions. The system can be activated and deactivated via a switch on the turn indicator stalk. Lane Keeping Alert is available in Europe on the Ford Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy, as well as on the new Focus.

Lane Keeping Aid

Lane Keeping Aid goes a step further. In addition to vibrating the steering wheel, it undertakes a temporary steering intervention to steer the vehicle back into the lane, when the front-view camera detects that an unintentional lane departure is likely to happen. Like Lane Keeping Alert, Lane Keeping Aid can be activated and deactivated via a switch on the turn indicator stalk and is automatically deactivated below 38 mph. Lane Keeping Aid was introduced in Europe on the new Ford Focus, and its availability will be expanded to other vehicles.

Driver Alert

Driver Alert computes a “vigilance level” for the driver and displays it in the cluster upon request. The vigilance judgment is based on statistical analysis of lane information collected by the forward-looking camera and the vehicle’s yaw behavior. If the driver vigilance level falls below a certain level (i.e., if the driver gets tired), a warning is given. Driver Alert is available in Europe on the Ford Focus, Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy.

Traffic Sign Recognition

Our new Traffic Sign Recognition technology uses a forward-looking camera to recognize speed limit signs next to the road; it then shows them in the information display. Traffic Sign Recognition is available on the Ford Focus in Europe.

Active Park Assist

Finally, Active Park Assist, a semi-automatic parallel parking system, is another new driver-assist technology. After activating the system by pressing the “parking” button, sensors detect a parking space by scanning. As the car passes the space, sensors measure the length. The system then defines the optimum point from which the vehicle can start parking and gives audible and visual warnings advising the driver to stop. From there the driver has to engage reverse and operate the accelerator and brakes, but the car controls the steering angle. When in the space, the vehicle continues to control the steering, with the driver engaging forward and reverse gears as necessary until the system gives a finish signal. Active Park Assist is available on the Ford Focus and C-MAX in Europe and the Ford Flex, Escape, Focus, Taurus and Explorer and the Lincoln MKT in the U.S.