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Ford has participated in a special test of a high-tech early warning “brake light” that can warn drivers following behind even if they are out of sight, around a bend or behind other traffic.
The technology is one of 20 potential future systems Ford tested as part of Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany (simTD), a four-year joint industry research project.
In emergency braking situations, the experimental “Electronic Brake Light” transmits a wireless signal to illuminate a dashboard light in cars following behind.
Ford said the study found the technology could enable drivers to brake earlier and potentially mitigate or avoid a collision.
The simTD field tests involved 500 test drivers in 120 vehicles – including 20 Ford S-MAX models. Testers logged more than 41,000 hours and almost a million miles on public roads and an enclosed test track in Germany.
“Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications represent one of the next major advancements in vehicle safety,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation. “Ford is committed to further real-world testing here and around the world with the goal of implementation in the foreseeable future.”
Ford said it used specially-equipped Ford S-MAX models to help test the potential of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication; also testing Obstacle Warning system, which alerts to the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous objects in the road, and Traffic Sign Assistant, that keeps in contact with traffic management centers for up-to-date information.
Engineers from Ford’s European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany, led the Electronic Brake Light development, testing and data analysis.
The wireless brake light is only one of the technology tested. Further technologies tested for simTD included:
- Public Traffic Management, which provides exact traffic prognosis based on comprehensive information; this includes identifying likely traffic scenarios and their impact at the point in the journey when they are encountered rather than at the point of departure
- In-car Internet Access, which, for example enables the driver to receive information about free parking spaces or check traffic hotspots by receiving up-to-date pictures from traffic cameras.
As a global leader in researching car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications, Ford said it is engaged in the European Commission-supported field operational tests DRIVE C2X, and in the U.S. contributing to Safety Pilot Model Deployment, a field test of more than 2,800 vehicles in cooperation with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Collating results from these programs is said by Ford to supports the company’s objective of harmonizing standards for messaging and hardware globally that would enable the delivery of new technologies faster, more efficiently, and more economically.
simTD is a joint project by leading German automotive manufacturers, component suppliers, communication companies, research institutions and public authorities.
The funding for the project was approximately £45million, of which £26million of direct project promotional support was provided by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).