Ford shows its newest state-of-the-art automobile communication technologies

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 13, 2011

Ford has exhibited its newest state-of-the-art automobile communication technologies at the simTD (Safe Intelligent Mobility - Testfield Germany) field operational test near Frankfurt. This is the first large-scale testing procedure of car-to infrastructure and car-to-car communication on German roads.

Engineers at Ford's European Research Centre in Aachen were engaged in the progress of the simTD testing platforms, which permit at least 20 capabilities to be shown and tested under real-life situations together for the first time.

simTD is a combined research project that started in 2008 with the goal of creating car-to-infrastructure and car-to-car communication solutions that could help improve road safety and as well as boost efficiency from current traffic infrastructures -- possibly enhancing traffic movement and decreasing carbon dioxide emissions.

At Aachen, Ford is creating the Electronic Brake Light function and has also been working in the Traffic Sign Assistant and Obstacle Warning programs. Ford has designed systems that could send messages at great speed between automobiles or between the road infrastructure and cars, utilizing wireless communications technology.

Drivers can be given advanced warning of risks, altering conditions and varying road regulations which are way beyond the field of vision of the driver or the automobile's sensors like light detection system, radar, or camera.

The Electronic Brake Light system employs car-to-car communications technology to send a message from the lead car to a following vehicle if an emergency braking procedure is conducted. When the driver performs a hard braking action, systems aboard the automobile detect the maneuver then send out a message -- containing details on vehicle position, speed, direction and the rate of vehicle deceleration -- to the vehicle following behind.

If the receiving automobile interprets that its driver may have to do necessary action to avoid the scenario, an audible and visual alert is brought to the cabin. In this way, the risk of accidents is reduced, especially in scenarios where visibility is decreased by weather, high traffic or bends in the road.

Ford is currently doing a research on how to develop applications that would provide more safety to the drivers. These can be as simple as warning signs and safety technologies that can prevent any form of accident when seen beforehand.

For example, the built in system should be able to detect if the driver initiates a hard braking action. At this point, a certain message is transmitted (to the next vehicle) that includes details about the deceleration rate, direction, speed and position for decoding.

After it is sent and decoded, the vehicle next to it interprets the level of danger (if ever there is) and sends an audible or visual warning sign if necessary. This action can significantly reduce accidents most especially if the warning is sent to the cabin immediately. It can work on road bends, heavy traffic jams or during bad weather where road visibility is limited.

In fact, the Obstacle Warning System already offers the same advantages. The drivers can use this to warn other drivers of potential roadblocks along the way so they can avoid going on that lane. The impressive system device can classify the type of obstacle as well as the position and where exactly that object is.

The simTD research is a joint initiative between Ford and some institutions for research, including telecom companies, the German VDA members and other suppliers in the automotive industry.

As part of the simTD study, the engineers are also doing some tests on the Traffic Sign Assistant system. The TSA uses car-to-infrastructure efficiency to determine the traffic situation while on the road. This advanced technology informs the drivers on the different traffic regulations with its constant communication with the traffic management groups. It allows users to get access to the latest information regarding the current speed limit, road rules, diversion roads as well as warnings in case there are temporarily closed lanes ahead of time.

Press Release

Ford develops car-to-car and car-to infrastructure communications features for safety research project

Ford has demonstrated its latest advanced vehicle communication technologies at the simTD (Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany) field operational test near Frankfurt, the first large-scale testing operation of car-to-car and car-to infrastructure communication on German roads.

Ford engineers at its European Research Centre in Aachen have been involved in the development of the simTD testing platforms, which allow more than 20 functionalities to be demonstrated and tested under real world conditions together for the first time.

simTD is a joint research project that began in 2008 with the aim of developing car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication systems that could contribute to increased road safety and deliver better efficiency from existing traffic infrastructures – potentially improving traffic flow and reducing 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 been also involved in the Obstacle Warning and Traffic Sign Assistant programs. Ford has developed systems that can transfer messages at high speed between cars or between the road infrastructure and vehicles, using wireless communications technology.

Drivers can be given advanced warning of hazards, changing conditions and varying road 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 utilises car-to-car communications technology to deliver a message from the lead vehicle to a following vehicle if an emergency braking procedure is carried out.

Systems on board the lead vehicle detect when the driver performs a hard braking action and transmit a message containing information on vehicle position, speed, direction and the rate of vehicle deceleration, which the following vehicle is able to receive and decode.

If the following vehicle interprets that its driver may need to take avoiding action, a visual and audible warning is delivered to the cabin, reduce the risk of accidents particularly in situations where visibility is reduced by weather, heavy traffic or bends in the road.

Similar benefits are offered by the Obstacle Warning system, through which a vehicle can inform other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous obstacles on the road – such as an object which has fallen from a van or truck – allowing following vehicles to determine from the detailed message whether the obstacle location poses a risk.

Ford engineers have also been involved in testing the Traffic Sign Assistant system as part of the simTD research project. Traffic Sign Assistant utilises car-to-infrastructure capabilities to keep drivers informed of changing traffic regulations en-route.

Traffic Sign Assistant 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.

Ford engineers are currently researching and developing future applications that will offer more than visual warnings to drivers – priming safety systems and taking accident avoidance measures in response to warnings from other intelligent vehicles.

The simTD research project is a joint project involving Ford, suppliers, members of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), telecommunications companies and research institutions.

Topics: ford, technology

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