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Ford begins future technology real-world testing

Ford Motor Company today begins real-world testing of future technologies as part of a research programme aimed at advancing car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication on European roads.

"Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications represent the next major advancements in vehicle safety," said Paul Mascarenas, 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 is contributing 20 specially equipped S-MAX models to a 120 vehicle fleet being used to test 20 experimental driver assistance technologies as part of the four-year research project "Safe Intelligent Mobility - Testfield Germany" or sim. The project's goal is to better understand the potential for car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication technologies to improve traffic safety and personal mobility.

Experts believe roads could be made safer and traffic congestion reduced by using mobile communications technology to integrate vehicles with each other and with transport infrastructure. Engineers from Ford's European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany and sim research project partners have up to now tested the developmental technologies in a controlled environment. The technologies will now be tested on public roads in and around Frankfurt in real-world driving conditions.

Technologies being tested as part of the simTD research project include:

  • Electronic Brake Light, which delivers a message from the lead vehicle to a following vehicle if an emergency braking procedure is carried out, even if the incident occurs out-of-sight, for example around a bend in the road. Ford is leading the development and integration of this application
  • Obstacle Warning system, which enables a vehicle to inform other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous obstacles on the road
  • Traffic Sign Assistant, which remains in continuous contact with traffic management centres to access up-to-date information on variable speed limits, temporary restrictions and diversions, as well as providing details of current and approaching permanent regulations, such as fixed speed limits and right of way
  • 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, can enable the driver to reserve and pay for parking en-route

The funding for the sim project is approximately €53million, of which €30million of direct project promotional support has been provided by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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