Ford moves closer to the autonomous car

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The new Ford Kuga, a ‘world car’ in every sense, is notable for its huge bag of electronic assists for the driver.  Here are a few of them.

Lane Guidance: When enabled, this keeps drivers between the white lines.  A test driver who has experienced the Kuga wrote, “I intentionally veered towards the center line.  The assist kicked in and began steering for me.  At one point I took my hands off the wheel (I don’t recommend this) but it did allow me to see the computer controlled brilliance at work, turning the steering wheel for me and getting me back on track.”

Even more impressive is the electronic smarts differentiates between veering into another lane and intentionally crossing over into the other lane.

Blind spot indicators: In the Titanium option model the outside edge of the side mirrors contain an LED that is illuminated when a vehicle is in your blind spot.  It’s a smart place to position the visual aid given it falls in your natural eye line when looking sideways.

Variable air ducts: The front air dam features closable vents that allow the air flow to freely pass into engine cooling and intake when at low speeds, but at highway speeds where not as much cooling is needed, these close and reduce the drag on the car, increasing fuel efficiency.

Reverse Park Assist: This bit of electro-trickery in the new Focus, but what happens is that the car just parks itself.  The driver does not have to input data.

Active City Stop: At less than 30 km/h and the sensors in the front bar of the vehicle detect an imminent impact, it will prepare the brakes.  At that point if you fail to react, the car will, bringing the vehicle to a stop before any contact is made.  That would unfortunately not be all that good here, because the traffic does not run at 30 km/h.

Speed sign recognition: This is a European option only as their road signs can be ‘read’ by the Kluga and the driver is informed if the car exceeds the signposted limit.

The ‘smart’ electronics are on their way, and whilst these types of assists have been available only on top end cars, the Kluga heralds their adoption on the cheaper range of cars.  Congratulations FoMoCo.