Imagine a future in which vehicles “talk” to each other – and to stoplights, other transportation infrastructure and even pedestrians and bicycles – in a way that might have seemed like science-fiction fantasy just a few decades ago. In this future, vehicle technologies will allow cars to communicate wirelessly with one another using advanced Wi-Fi signals or dedicated short-range communications on secured channels. The Wi-Fi-based radio system will allow 360 degrees of detection, so it can “look” around corners for potentially dangerous situations, such as when a driver’s vision is obstructed.
Such connected vehicles could warn drivers if there is a risk of collision when changing lanes or approaching a stationary or parked vehicle, or if another driver loses control. Drivers also could be alerted if their vehicle is on a path to collide with another vehicle at an intersection, when a vehicle ahead stops or slows suddenly, or when a traffic pattern changes on a busy highway.
By potentially reducing collisions, connected vehicles could also ease traffic delays, which could save drivers both time and fuel, thereby reducing their environmental impacts. Traffic congestion also could be avoided through a network of connected vehicles and infrastructure that processes traffic and road information. A traffic management center would send this information to connected vehicles, which could then suggest less-congested routes to drivers and other connected travelers.
Already, Ford has unveiled an array of accident avoidance and driver assist technologies that use radars and cameras to warn the driver of a potentially dangerous situation, and in some cases provide assistance to the driver. And we are taking part in numerous research projects – on our own and in cooperation with other companies and government bodies – to develop and demonstrate other technologies.
Technology and innovation are the fundamental drivers for Ford Motor Company’s Blueprint for Mobility. As our Executive Chairman, Bill Ford, mentioned in a 2012 speech in Barcelona, in the next five years consumers will see the migration of driver assistance technologies across our product lineup. These technologies include radar-based systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control and the Blind Spot Information System, as well as camera-based technologies such as Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Keeping Assist. In addition, we will begin investigating new models of car use, such as car and ride sharing, and developing new partnerships that will help us connect with consumer trends.
Our Lane Keeping System uses a small, forward-facing camera behind the inside rearview mirror to “look” down the road, monitor lane lines to determine that the vehicle is on course.
In the midterm, our vision is to enhance driver assistance technologies to include more semi-automated capabilities. These capabilities will give drivers the option to let the car take the lead in certain situations, such as when changing lanes, in traffic jams or on freeway trips. The driver will always be able to take back control, if needed.
In the long term, we hope consumers will begin to see a radically different transportation system, particularly in urban centers. Cars will be connected to each other, as well as to the infrastructure around them. Vehicles will take in a significant amount of information that will allow them to have automated capability, such as parking themselves or driving in connected groups on the freeway. There will also be seamless connections between different modes of transportation, from personal cars to public transit systems to parking facilities at businesses.
In order to reach our future mobility vision, we recognize that no single automaker or even groups of automakers can do it alone. That is why we are working on collaborative research to make our vision a reality.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is leading research and coordinating two automaker coalitions relating to connected vehicles. The first coalition is the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), a group of eight automakers that focuses on the technical aspects of connected vehicles; the second is the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration Consortium (VIIC), a group of nine automakers that focuses on the policy aspects of connected vehicles.
CAMP is working on the technical standards necessary for all the motorized vehicles on the connected vehicle network to be interoperable. This technical partnership included the world’s first government-sponsored driving clinics in 2011 and expanded to include a year-long field trial. The field trial started in August 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and includes data collection on approximately 3,000 vehicles that are communicating with each other. The goal is to complete the research phase in 2013.
The VIIC is working on the significant practical and policy challenges, such as security, privacy and the allocation of risk and liability, that will need to be addressed before Ford’s vision of a connected vehicle network can become a reality.
Even though we do not have all of the solutions today, Ford is committed to work with the USDOT through the public/private partnerships at CAMP and VIIC to address these challenges.
In Europe, the “Safe Intelligent Mobility – Test Field Germany” (known as “simTD” for short) is investigating vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications under everyday conditions in a large-scale field operational test. In simTD, 120 vehicles were outfitted with V2V and V2I communications systems, and roadside units were set up in select locations around the test area. Both were also linked up to traffic control centers. During the test, which took place from July to December 2012 in and around Frankfurt, Germany, participating drivers received information about traffic jams and road accidents, so they could choose alternate routes. More than 350 drivers actively participated and collected data by completing specific driving tasks. In total, the test vehicles drove more than 400,000 kilometers and collected about 30 terabytes of log data, which is now being evaluated.
Ford provided 20 specially equipped Ford S-MAX models for use as test vehicles in the simTD project. Ford is also leading the development, testing and evaluation of the Electronic Emergency Brake Light system, which warns the driver of a heavily braking vehicle ahead. The simTD project will wrap up in 2013. It is a joint effort with other vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, telecommunication providers and research institutes, as well as public authorities. It receives partial funding from the German government.
Ford is also contributing to the European harmonization and standardization of wireless communication systems and applications within the framework of the DRIVE C2X project, which is co-funded by the European Commission. DRIVE C2X is the acronym for “DRIVing implementation and Evaluation of C2X communication technology in Europe” (C2X refers to “car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure” communication, and means the same as V2V and V2I). This project kicked off in January 2011 and is planned to run until mid-2014. It brings together more than 40 stakeholders, such as vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, universities and public authorities from all over Europe. Within the framework of DRIVE C2X, field operational tests in a real-world environment are being conducted in seven test sites across Europe.
In 2012, DRIVE C2X achieved a major milestone – the successful implementation of a European V2X reference system at the test site in Helmond, the Netherlands. Also, cooperative driver awareness and warning functions have successfully been demonstrated to the European Commission and invited technical executives. The DRIVE C2X system was also demonstrated at a “Cooperative Mobility Demonstration” that took place at the ITS World Congress in October 2012 in Vienna, Austria.
Both simTD and DRIVE C2X are working to pave the way for the full deployment of V2V and V2I systems in Europe, and will provide Ford with some of the data needed to develop next-generation safety and mobility features. However, cooperative systems can only be deployed successfully in cooperation with other automakers and key players such as road operators. Therefore, Ford joined the “CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium” as a member in January 2013. This association of automakers, suppliers, research institutes and other stakeholders aims for European standardization of V2X technology and supports its deployment.
In January 2010, a consortium of 29 partners – led by the Ford European Research Center in Aachen, Germany – joined forces in the Accident Avoidance by Active Intervention of Intelligent Vehicles (interactIVe) European research project. This consortium seeks to support the development and implementation of accident avoidance systems, and consists of seven automotive manufacturers, six suppliers, 14 research institutes and three other stakeholders. The European Commission is covering more than half of the €30 million budget.
During the planned 42-month duration of interactIVe, the partners are testing the performance of implemented safety systems through active intervention, including automated braking and steering in critical situations, with the aim of avoiding collisions or at least mitigating impact severity in accidents.
In 2012 we completed another major European research project (called EuroFOT) that served as a large-scale field operational test of the real-world impact of accident avoidance systems. Under the EU’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7) for research and technological development, this project joined together 28 partners – including vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, universities and research centers. More than 1,500 cars and trucks were equipped with eight technologies, along with advanced data-collection capabilities. This allowed a thorough evaluation of the new technologies for safety, efficiency and driver comfort, in real-world scenarios and with ordinary drivers. The project had a total budget of €22 million and was led by the Ford research center in Aachen, Germany. It included 100 Ford vehicles.