Ground Control to Major Tom

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Ford Motor Company has begun real-world testing of future technologies as part of a research program aimed at advancing car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication on European roads.  Benefits from this research will eventually be seen in the Ford Global Cars of the future.

“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 S-Max. Ford S-Max.

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 more simply known as simTD.  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 simTD 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 vehicle in front 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 centers 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, 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 vehicles will cover thousands of kilometers in test drives and evaluations to gather valuable research data from every-day driving scenarios,” said Christian Ress, technical expert, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.

The increasing use of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technology is part of Ford’s “Blueprint for Mobility,” which was outlined by Executive Chairman Bill Ford during his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.  The “Blueprint for Mobility” details the company’s early thinking on how to tackle the issues of mobility in an increasingly crowded and urbanized planet between now and 2025.