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.