If we we were to sum up Ford’s vision for the future of mobility, it would be something like this: more technology to automate the driving experience, thereby improving safety and efficiency while decreasing congestion. And last last week, The Blue Oval took another step in achieving that goal by demonstrating a test car equipped with obstacle avoidance technology in North America.
The test car, a Ford Focus, is capable of automatically steering and braking to direct itself away form traffic if the driver fails to respond to warnings presented by the vehicle. The obstacle avoidance demo was done for the first time in North America at Ford’s Dearborn Development Center test track in Michigan.
Developed at Ford’s research center in Aachen, Germany, the obstacle avoidance technology builds on the foundation of several driver-assist technologies now being offered in many Ford products around the world, with the test car being a result of the findings of a four-year research project called interactIVe (Accident Avoidance by Active Intervention of Intelligent Vehicles), a Ford-led consortium consisting of 29 partners. The technology utilizes three radars, ultrasonic sensors, and a camera to scan the road as far as 656 feet (200 meters) ahead.
Having detected a slow-moving or stationary object, the system displays the warnings, then sounds a chime. If the driver does not steer or brake, the obstacle avoidance technology applies the brakes, scans for gaps on either side of the hazard, and takes control of the electronic power steering to avoid a collision. The technology has been tested at speeds greater than 38 mph (60 kph). It’s important to note that the system issues warnings if it detects slow-moving objects or stationary obstacles on the road before taking any action.
“Through development of obstacle avoidance and fully assisted parking aid technologies, we are building the foundation for a future of automated driving and personal mobility,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford research and innovation.
Ford has hinted at a production-intent version of its obstacle avoidance technology with the recently-unveiled Ford Edge Concept, itself a preview of the next-generation 2015 Edge.
The news of the obstacle avoidance demonstration comes on the heels of Ford’s announcement of the Fusion Hybrid Automated Research Vehicle to continue developing automated driving technologies.