Collaborative Efforts

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Ford Motor Company continues to be involved with a number of partners to enhance the safety of the driving experience and develop future technologies.

Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership

In 1995, Ford and General Motors launched the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) to conduct pre-competitive active safety research with other OEMs, suppliers and the U.S. government. Within CAMP, the Vehicle Safety Communications Two (VSC-2) Consortium, which included Ford, GM, Toyota, Daimler and Honda, worked with the U.S. Department of Transportation on projects to develop safety applications that utilize vehicle communications. Their efforts focused on developing a communication system whereby vehicles can “talk” to each other and to the roadway. This would be analogous to a wireless internet system or a cellular telephone for cars. CAMP VSC-2 successfully completed projects that demonstrated the basic feasibility of this technology and evaluated several applications.

CAMP has now formed a VSC-3 Consortium with Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota and VW-Audi to continue work on vehicle-to-vehicle communications for safety applications. This consortium is being funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete all of the pre-competitive work necessary for a deployment decision for vehicle safety communications in 2013. In addition, the consortium is being funded to conduct driver clinics of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) safety systems around the U.S. in 2011 and is preparing to participate in a model deployment of V2V systems in 2012. (See the case study for more on Ford’s work regarding “intelligent vehicle” systems.)

CAMP completed two projects with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010. The Crash Imminent Braking Project (involving Ford, GM, Mercedes, Continental and Delphi) developed minimum performance requirements and objective test procedures for systems that automatically apply the brakes to avoid crashes or mitigate the severity of a crash. The Advanced Restraint Systems Project (involving Ford, GM and Mercedes) developed and evaluated restraint systems that utilize pre-crash and occupant sensing information. In 2011, a CAMP consortium will work with NHTSA on a project to develop performance requirements and test procedures for systems to avoid or mitigate vehicle crashes with pedestrians.

First Responder Training

For decades, Ford has supplied vehicles to fire departments so they can train on the latest technologies and materials using their increasingly advanced extrication tools. The increased use of stronger steels (e.g., boron steel, tubular hydroform steel and high-strength steel) in motor vehicles, as well as the introduction of new technologies such as advanced safety features and hybrid powertrains, have raised some questions by first responders regarding gaining access to vehicle occupants who have been involved in a severe accident. As a result, Ford has provided more than 2,000 training vehicles to first responders since 1990.

In addition, following the introduction of our first hybrid model (the 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid), Ford began publishing emergency responder hybrid vehicle guides with instructions on how to quickly and safely disable the vehicle’s electrical and battery systems before attempting to rescue occupants. In June 2009, Ford’s training efforts included working with the Regional Alliance for Firefighter Training, which is made up of nearly 35 fire departments in Michigan. For this event, we provided 10 hybrid vehicles to facilitate the first-known emergency responder training event specifically focused on hybrid vehicles.

In 2010, Ford provided more than 70 vehicles to first responders for training purposes, including 12 vehicles to the Dearborn (Michigan) Fire Department. These vehicles gave more than 100 firefighters the opportunity to train on advanced vehicles using their new extrication equipment, commonly known as “the jaws of life,” which the city of Dearborn obtained with the aid of an “Assistance for Firefighters” federal grant program.

Ford also is working to take this training to the national level. In October 2010 we partnered with PennWell Publishing, the publisher of Fire Engineering magazine, to develop a three-part training video on advanced vehicle technologies and extrication techniques. This training video was released at the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference, held in Indianapolis, Indiana, in March 2011.

Ford is also working with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to provide electric vehicle safety training to first responders. The NFPA’s training program, which was announced last year as part of a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, will provide firefighters and first responders with information about how to safely handle emergency situations involving new technologies found in electric vehicles.

Ford’s efforts and training events have been well received by the first responder community, and should help their important efforts in the future.

University Partnerships

Ford increasingly collaborates with university partners on a wide range of research projects, including research into advanced safety technologies. In recent years, we have fine-tuned the objectives of our grant-providing University Research Program (URP), moving away from exploratory, long-term research to highly collaborative projects focused on innovations with more near- and mid-term implementation potential.

In 2010, Ford awarded 13 new URP grants to 12 universities around the globe. Recipient schools include, for example, Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan; Stanford University in Palo Alto, California; RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany; and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. These new Ford URP projects add to an active research portfolio that now comprises 30 studies in partnership with 26 universities globally.

In addition to the URP projects, Ford has major research alliances with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Michigan and Northwestern University.

Safety is a central thrust in many of these collaborative university programs. The following are some examples of current projects:

  • Projects within the Ford–MIT alliance are yielding progress in areas of vehicle autonomy and active safety, including computer vision, lane keeping, vehicle controls, obstacle detection and avoidance, and accurately assessing the driver’s interaction with the vehicle. One project aims to assess the role of active safety technologies, features and functions in reducing driving-related stresses and enhancing driver wellness.
  • At Auburn University, Ford has an ongoing project to conduct “sensor fusion” – that is, to coordinate between Global Positioning System sensors and the motion sensors in a vehicle’s stability control systems, to predict when a driver is about to lose control. The ultimate goal is to use satellites to feed data to a vehicle’s electronic stability control system, allowing it to adjust and prevent a loss-of-control accident.
  • At the University of Michigan, safety work includes a portfolio of projects on 360° sensing and developing more robust and capable active vehicle control and enhanced collision avoidance systems, utilizing both onboard sensors and offboard information sources.
  • A project at the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center should yield an improved understanding of human tolerance to pelvis injury.
  • Collaborative work is ongoing with Purdue University investigating enhanced vehicle dynamics and stability control.
  • As part of its accident research projects in Germany, the UK and Australia, Ford works closely with internationally acknowledged safety experts from the Universities of Hannover, Loughborough, Dresden, Birmingham and Monash.

Collaborative university work catalyzes innovation at Ford by providing access to leading researchers at the cutting edge of vehicle dynamics and stability control, accident avoidance and driver-assist safety technology, to name just a few. Ford will continue to integrate these collaborative innovations, driving continuous improvement in real-world safety and sustainability for all Ford Motor Company products.

Alcolock Blue Ribbon Panel

Reducing the incidence of impaired driving would go a long way toward improving road traffic safety. In the EU, 25–30 percent of all car accidents involve alcohol. In the U.S., approximately 40 percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related (as reported by NHTSA).

The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety formed a Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) in 2007 for the development of advanced alcohol detection technology, often called “alcolocks.” The panel consists of vehicle manufacturers, including Ford, alcohol detection technology suppliers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, government representatives and other experts.

The BRP and its research are being funded jointly by NHTSA and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The purpose of the research is to “...engage major automakers in cooperative research that advances the state of alcohol detection technology... to promote the standardization of the technology, its widespread deployment, and acceptance by the general public.”

Ford continues to participate in the work of the Blue Ribbon Panel through the Alliance. Phase I of the research has been completed, though some of the system targets were not achieved and remain to be addressed. Phase II has nonetheless begun, and will include demonstrating the technology in a test vehicle and with human subjects over the next two years.

New Crash-Test Dummies

Crash-test dummies are essential research tools that aid in the development of passive safety technologies, and Ford Motor Company continues to develop, often in partnership with other parties, more advanced test dummies.

From 2005 through 2010, Ford partnered with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the Takata Corporation in a multi-year project to develop a new abdominal insert and sensor for a crash-test dummy representing a six-year-old child.

A “family” of crash test dummies

A “family” of crash test dummies

CHOP studies have shown that, in vehicle crashes, significant abdominal injury in four- to eight-year-old children is second in frequency of occurrence only to head and facial injuries. Abdominal injuries may occur when children who are too young (i.e., the four- to eight-year-old range) utilize adult restraint systems without a booster seat. The abdominal insert and sensor will allow restraint engineers industry-wide to test the potential for abdominal injuries in children and ultimately improve the development of in-vehicle restraint systems for younger children.

In February 2008, the Society of Automotive Engineers established a task force to perform “round robin” testing of the new dummy component. More than 20 organizations from around the globe have signed up to participate. Tests will be performed by dummy manufacturers, other OEMs and NHTSA’s Vehicle Research and Test Center. Testing is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2011.

In another effort, Ford, GM and Chrysler have been working together under the auspices of the Occupant Safety Research Partnership (OSRP), a group within the U.S. Council for Automotive Research, to research, develop, test and evaluate advanced crash-test dummies and other pre-competitive safety systems. A number of years ago, the OSRP initiated development of WorldSID, a male side-impact dummy that is recognized as the most advanced crash-test dummy ever created. From 2006 through 2008, the OSRP worked with NHTSA to help them evaluate WorldSID for potential use in the federal government’s new side-impact crash-test standard. NHTSA concluded that the biofidelity of WorldSID is better than that of the dummy in the current side-impact regulation. WorldSID is the first side-impact dummy with the potential to be commonly used in side-impact regulations around the world.

To that end, since 2009, an informal working group under the UN’s Working Party on Passive Safety has been working to fully develop WorldSID dummies for use in government regulations globally. In 2010, OSRP developed a new test fixture to simulate the front end of a generic car or truck. Work is underway using that fixture to assess a new “dummy” leg, called FLEX-PLI, which has been proposed for inclusion in a new Global Technical Regulation for pedestrian testing.