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As part of autonomous vehicles’ development, features that can be integrated in today’s cars like brake assist need to work all around the world. With this in mind, Ford went to Paris to test its emergency braking assist system.
Ford said it has put its automatic braking technology, Active City Stop, to the test in some of Europe’s toughest driving conditions. The streets of Paris provided the ultimate challenge, with the French capital carrying a reputation as one of the most stressful places to drive in Europe.
Having conducted a comprehensive closed track development and testing process, Ford said its engineers turned to a challenging real-world environment to test the system. Bumper-to-bumper traffic, dangerous junctions and drivers pushing through the narrowest gaps made Paris the ideal location to put it to the test.
“Paris streets are not for the faint-hearted, with multiple lanes of fast-moving traffic competing for space, and busy junctions testing the nerves of even skilled drivers,” said Nils Gerber, technical expert, electrical and electronic systems engineering, Ford of Europe. “We knew these streets would be perfect to help test Active City Stop in conditions that are simply not possible to replicate on the test track.”
Ford added an advanced version of Active City Stop, which operates at speeds of up to 30 mph, debuts on the new Ford Focus that goes on sale in Europe later this year.
Active City Stop’s light detecting and ranging sensor scans the road ahead 50 times every second, explained Ford, enabling the system to help reduce the severity of rear-end collisions, and in some cases even prevent an accident entirely. If the driver does not react in time to traffic that is slowing or stopped ahead the system brakes, reduces engine torque, and activates the rear hazard lights.
For the test, Ford said professional drivers with local knowledge drove vehicles along busy Paris streets – ranked among the 10 most congested in Europe – and through notorious junctions like the Place de l’Etoile at Arc de Triomphe, where 12 major avenues converge.
For the purposes of safety, the company explained the automatic braking function was disabled during the tests, however engineers were able to monitor the system to see when it would have deployed, and to ensure the brakes were only triggered when there was a risk of rear-end collisions. They then examined specific events in more detail using real-time video of the traffic conditions.
“Paris is a very good place for this kind of test – you encounter all kinds of driving situations,” said Pascal Houssais, a professional chauffeur, who took part in the test. “Drivers can be very unpredictable, changing lanes without any warning, and people are always in a hurry.”
The latest Paris testing allowed Ford engineers to cover almost 2,500 miles in five days with Mondeo (Fusion) and Tourneo Connect prototypes during peak traffic conditions, said Ford. The real-world tests enabled the team to sign off the system as production ready for each model.
Active City Stop has proved a success with European drivers according to Ford, after first being introduced on the Ford Focus in 2011. More than 170,000 Ford vehicles across Europe are now equipped with the technology that has since been extended to the Fiesta, B-Max, C-Max, Grand C-Max, Kuga, Transit Connect and Tourneo Connect.
The new Ford Focus also will introduce advanced technology for safer and less stressful parking. Perpendicular Parking will help drivers reverse hands-free into spaces alongside other cars; Cross Traffic Alert will warn drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them; and Park-Out Assist will helps drivers exit a parallel parking space, said Ford.
Ford added researchers are developing a Fully Assisted Parking Aid that could enable drivers to park with only the push of a button from inside or outside of their car. Ford also is investigating advanced systems to help improve road safety based on car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications. This includes an Electronic Emergency Brake Light that could alert drivers even around corners and through traffic.