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Vehicle Safety and Driver Assist Technologies

Accident Avoidance and Driver Assist Technologies

A variety of Ford technologies, in addition to each vehicle’s handling and braking capabilities, can assist drivers by helping to control the vehicle or alerting the driver to potential collisions. Also, these technologies can support routine driving tasks by improving comfort and reducing demands on the driver. Driver assistance technologies will continue to advance to include semi-automated capabilities, providing drivers more assistance in certain situations, such as when changing lanes, in traffic jams or on freeway trips. The driver will always remain in the loop to take control, if required.

Ford Technologies

The following accident avoidance and driver assist technologies are offered on Ford vehicles today.

Adjustable Speed Limiter Device

Adjustable Speed Limiter Device (ASLD) allows the driver to set a speed limit that cannot be exceeded by standard gas pedal operation. The driver can override the limit, however, by pressing the accelerator pedal beyond normal usage limits (>90 percent pedal travel). ASLD is offered on select Ford Motor Company vehicles in Europe and China.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) helps drivers maintain a preset distance from the vehicle they are following, using a radar module mounted at the front of the vehicle that measures the gap and closing speed to the vehicle ahead. The system automatically adjusts the speed of the car to help maintain a preset distance from the vehicle in front. If the radar sensor becomes blocked by snow, ice or mud, the driver receives a notice of reduced or suspended functionality. ACC is available on select Ford and Lincoln vehicles in North America. In Europe and China, ACC is available with another technology called Distance Alert. Distance Alert helps the driver to keep a proper distance from the vehicle ahead by providing a visual warning if the driver-selected following distance is exceeded.

Forward Collision Warning with Brake Support

Ford’s Forward Collision Warning with Brake Support technology uses the same radar module as Adaptive Cruise Control to detect range and speed. Forward Collision Warning with Brake Support activates a visual and audible warning when the system detects a high risk of collision with the vehicle in front. In addition, the brake system is pretensioned and the “servo boost” assistance system is modulated to provide faster brake performance (e.g., as soon as the driver lifts the gas pedal), if required by the driver. As with ACC, if the sensor becomes blocked, the driver receives a notice of reduced or suspended functionality. This technology is available on certain Ford and Lincoln vehicles in North America and Europe.

Lane-Keeping System

Our Lane-Keeping System consists of three elements to help a driver maintain proper lane position: Driver Alert, Lane-Keeping Alert and Lane-Keeping Aid. Using a small, forward-facing camera behind the inside rearview mirror, the system “looks” down the road, monitoring lane lines. Driver Alert computes a “vigilance level” and displays it in the instrument cluster upon request. If the vigilance level falls below a certain level (e.g., if the driver gets tired), visual and audible warnings are given. Lane-Keeping Alert is designed to warn the driver, via a three-pulse vibration in the steering wheel, when the front-view camera detects that an unintentional lane departure is happening. Lane-Keeping Aid goes a step further, applying a steering torque in the direction the driver needs to steer to keep the vehicle in the current lane. Lane-Keeping System is available on select Ford and Lincoln vehicles in North America and Europe. On some European Ford vehicles, Lane-Keeping Alert and/or Driver Alert are available separately.

Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert

Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross-Traffic Alert (CTA) uses rear corner-mounted, side- and rear-looking radar that detect other vehicles around the car and illuminates an indicator lamp in the side-view mirrors when driving forward. When backing out of a parking space, the same sensors can detect vehicles approaching from the sides, illuminate the indicator lamp in the side view mirror, provide a text alert in the cluster and sound a warning chime. BLIS with CTA is available on certain Ford and Lincoln vehicles in North America; BLIS without CTA is available in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Active Park Assist

Active Park Assist uses ultrasonic sensors, while the driver is slowly driving near parking spots, to measure the distance between cars. When a suitable parking space is found, Active Park Assist can steer the car into the parking space while the driver controls the shifting, accelerator and brake. Active Park Assist is available on certain Ford and Lincoln vehicles in North America and Europe.

Rear View Camera

Our Rear View Camera transmits an image of what is behind the vehicle when it is shifted in reverse. Rear View Camera is available on every Ford and Lincoln vehicle in North America and several Ford vehicles in Europe.

Curve Control

Curve Control is designed to sense when a driver is taking a curve too quickly. In those situations, it rapidly reduces engine torque and can apply four-wheel braking, slowing the vehicle by up to 10 mph in about a second. The technology is designed to be effective on wet or dry pavement, and is expected to be helpful when drivers are entering or exiting freeway ramps with too much speed. A majority of Ford’s North American products will offer Curve Control by 2015. It is currently available on one vehicle in Europe.

Active City Stop

Using a forward-looking radar sensor, Active City Stop is designed to detect objects in front of the car and constantly calculate the braking force required to avoid a collision. If the estimated braking force exceeds a given level without the driver responding, the danger of a collision is considered imminent and the system automatically reduces throttle input and applies the car’s brakes. The system is designed for speeds of 30 to 50km/h (19 to 31 mph). Active City Stop is available on select Ford vehicles in Europe.

Traffic Sign Recognition

With Traffic Sign Recognition, a front camera recognizes speed signs that use the standards of the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals. The identified speed is then indicated in the instrument cluster to inform the driver of the speed limit. If activated, the cluster will also warn the driver if the speed limit is exceeded. Traffic Sign Recognition is available in Europe.

Hill Start Assist

Hill Start Assist helps the driver when starting the vehicle on an uphill gradient by holding the brakes while the driver moves his foot from the brake pedal to accelerator pedal. This system is available standard on most new Ford Motor Company vehicles in North America and Europe.

Advanced Front Lighting

Several types of advanced front lighting are now available on Ford Motor Company vehicles, including the following:

Steerable headlights are designed to use inputs from the steering wheel to turn the headlamps, so the driver can get a better view while negotiating a curve. Steerable headlights are offered on most new Lincoln products.

Automatic high beam control allows the driver to use the high beam to improve visibility. The system uses a forward-facing camera to detect vehicles ahead and automatically deactivates the high beam. Automatic high beam control is offered on most new Ford vehicles in North America and Europe.

Glare-free headlamps are designed to provide improved visibility during nighttime driving by using LED headlamps and input from a forward-facing camera to detect vehicles ahead. The system selectively switches off the LEDs to prevent glare for oncoming drivers. Glare-free headlamps are available in Europe.

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Vision for the Future

The radar- and camera-based technologies described above are a first step toward Ford’s vision of automated vehicles that still keep the driver in the loop to take back control of the vehicle, if needed. We are continuing to develop technologies that allow for more semiautomated capabilities.

At the same time, we have been working on separate technologies that will enable “connected” vehicles – that is, vehicles that can communicate with one another and with roadway infrastructure using advanced Wi-Fi signals or dedicated short-range communications on secured channels. By communicating with each other and the world around them, these vehicles will be a key element of the integrated transportation ecosystem we envision in our Blueprint for Mobility.

In our long-term vision of a future with vehicles that are both automated and connected, driving will be safer, traffic less congested and greenhouse gas emissions lower. Such vehicles will be able to warn drivers 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 reducing collisions, connected vehicles will ease traffic delays, which will save drivers both time and fuel. Gridlock will also be avoided through a network of connected vehicles and infrastructure that processes traffic information and suggests less-congested routes to drivers.

Admittedly, this vision will likely not be realized for many years. Many technological details remain to be worked out, and drivers will need to become comfortable with the idea of giving up some measure of driving control to their vehicle, which will not happen quickly. In the United States in early 2014, however, the connected vehicle concept got a significant boost when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it intends to complete ongoing research and begin working on a regulatory proposal for light vehicles that will require “vehicle-to-vehicle” communication devices in new vehicles.

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Collaborative Research

In order to progress from current technologies to our long-term vision of connected and automated vehicles, we are conducting collaborative research with a variety of public, private and academic entities.

In December 2013, for example, we unveiled a Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle that will enable us to further test current and future sensing systems and driver assist technologies. Our goal is to advance the development of new technologies that can then be applied to the company’s next generation of vehicles. The research is being conducted jointly with the University of Michigan and State Farm®. In addition, in January 2014, we announced new research projects with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University to research and develop solutions to some of the technical challenges surrounding automated driving.

For a number of years, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has been coordinating two automaker research coalitions relating to connected vehicles. The first 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 has been working on the technical standards necessary for all 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 beginning in late 2012. The field trial included data collection on approximately 3,000 vehicles that were communicating with each other. USDOT is currently analyzing data from this field trial and is expected to publish a report in 2014. The field trial was instrumental in supporting NHTSA’s decision to support and eventually require vehicle-to-vehicle communications, as discussed above.

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 the vision of a connected vehicle network can become a reality.

In Europe, we are 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). 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 have been conducted over the course of six to nine months in seven test sites across Europe.

One of these test sites is located in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, and is closely linked to a national research initiative called Safe Intelligent Mobility – Test Field Germany, or simTD for short. Ford contributed to this joint project, which brought together relevant stakeholders of the German automotive industry and concluded successfully in June 2013. simTD was one of the world’s first large-scale field operational tests of cooperative systems. Over six months, 120 vehicles from six automakers were driven more than 1.6 million kilometers. Ford contributed with 20 Ford S‑MAX vehicles equipped with innovative vehicle-to-infrastructure technology. Within simTD, 500 drivers tested and validated more than 20 functions targeting traffic safety, efficiency and comfort. Ford led the development of the Emergency Electronic Brake Light warning functionality. The project was supported in part by the German government.

Also in Europe, we have been one of 29 partners in the Accident Avoidance by Active Intervention of Intelligent Vehicles (interactIVe) research project, led by the Ford European Research Center in Aachen, Germany. This consortium sought to support the development and implementation of accident avoidance systems, and consisted of seven automotive manufacturers, six suppliers, 14 research institutes and three other stakeholders. The European Commission covered more than half of the €30 million budget. During the 42-month duration of interactIVe, the partners tested the performance of prototype 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. The final event of InteractIVe in November 2013 took place in Aachen and at Ford’s Lommel Proving Ground, with live vehicle demonstrations.

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