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Ford goes wireless for crash avoidance system

Posted: 06 Aug 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Wireless crash avoidance  GPS technologies  vehicle safety 

Ford Motor Company's researchers advance vehicle safety with their development of new crash avoidance systems that use wireless and GPS technologies to detect and respond to imminent collisions.

The vehicles communicate with each other in traffic and help drivers avoid or mitigate accidents. Ford's research into wireless "active safety" applications includes its vehicle-to-infrastructure Smart Intersection project. Ford is also conducting cooperative vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure research with industry and government partners to increase road safety and traffic efficiency.

Ford's Automatic Braking Intersection Collision Avoidance System (ABICAS), which is under current development, uses radio-based wireless sensors, GPS and navigation information to detect the relative location of other radio-equipped test vehicles. The system is being designed to warn drivers of imminent side-impact collisions and automatically activate the brakes if needed.

ABICAS is powered by wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and works in tandem with radar-based and camera-based driver assist features (i.e. adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support). As radar and camera sensors detect other vehicles ahead and behind a vehicle, radio-based wireless sensors give vehicles a 360-degree outlook. Data from these various sensors are combined with engineering algorithms to ensure the validity of an imminent collision before automatically activating the vehicle's brakes—all of which happens in a split second. If a vehicle is equipped with a dedicated short-range wireless radio, it can communicate with similarly equipped vehicles and use the shared information in harmony with the safety systems.

Ford Automotive Safety Office's director Jim Vondale says, "By leveraging wireless technology, Ford is developing tomorrow's crash avoidance systems today." He says that research projects like ABICAS will one day enable tomorrow's vehicles to talk to each other to avoid accidents.

Ford's vehicle-to-vehicle research builds on knowledge obtained from its Smart Intersection project, which centred on wireless communications between vehicles and intersection infrastructure. Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows 40 per cent of all traffic accidents occurring in intersections, where side-impact collisions are most common. The Smart Intersection project communicates with test vehicles to warn drivers of potential collisions, such as when a vehicle is about to run through a red light. The intersection is outfitted with technology that monitors traffic signal status, GPS data and digital maps to assess potential hazards; it then transmits warning information to other specially equipped vehicles. Once the information is received by the vehicle, its collision avoidance system can be programmed to determine whether the car can safely cross the intersection, or if it needs to stop before entering the intersection. If the system determines the need to stop and senses that the driver is not decelerating quickly enough, visual and audible warnings are then given to the driver.

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