At the simTD (Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany) field operational test near Frankfurt, Ford has completed the first large-scale testing operation of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication on German roads.
Ford engineers at the European Research Centre in Aachen have been involved in the development of the simTD testing platforms, allowing over 20 functionalities to be demonstrated and tested under real world conditions together for the first time.
simTD began in 2008, a joint research project which aims to develop car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication systems which could improve road safety and deliver better efficiency from existing traffic infrastructures with the potential to improve traffic flow and reduce CO2 emissions.
"Talking cars are no longer merely the stuff of children’s movies, but are now closer than ever to becoming a reality for Ford drivers," said Martin Wiecker, research engineer, Ford Global Driver Assistance and Active Safety. "Ford has been researching the potential for car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications for some time, which potentially offer considerable benefits in terms of safety and convenience for all road users."
At Aachen, Ford is developing the Electronic Brake Light function and has also been involved in the Obstacle Warning and Traffic Sign Assistant programmes. Systems have also been developed by Ford which can transfer messages between cars or between road infrastructure and vehicles at high speed through the use of wireless communication technology.
Drivers can be warned in advance of hazards, changing conditions and varying regulations beyond the driver's field of vision or the vehicle's sensors such as radar, light detection system or camera.
The Electronic Brake Light system makes use of car-to-car communication technology to send a message from a lead vehicle to a following vehicle when emergency braking has been undertaken.
On board systems of the lead vehicle will detect when the driver has performed emergency braking, sending data to the following vehicle including vehicle position, speed, direction and the rate of vehicle deceleration.
If the following vehicle calculates that the driver may need to take evasive action, a visual and audible warning is delivered to the cabin, helping to reduce the risk of accidents. This technology can be particularly helpful in conditions with reduced visibility heavy traffic or bend in the road.
The Obstacle Warning system offers similar benefits, with the vehicle warning other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous obstacles on the road - for example if an object has fallen from a van - allowing following vehicles to calculate whether the obstacle poses a risk.
Ford engineers have been involved in the Traffic Sign Assistant system testing as part of the simTD research project. Traffic Sign Assistant makes use of the car-to-infrastructure capabilities, keeping drivers up to date with changing traffic regulations en route.
Traffic Sign Assistant communicates continuously with traffic management centres receiving up to date information on variable speed limits, temporary restrictions and diversions, as well as current and approaching permanent regulations, such as fixed speed limits and right of way.
Currently, Ford engineers are involved in researching and developing future applications that will prime safety systems and accident avoidance measures as a result of warnings from other intelligent vehicles.
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