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Ford demonstrates obstacle avoidance on Focus test car

Ford Motor Company demonstrated a Ford Focus test car equipped with its obstacle avoidance technology (earlier post) that automatically steers and brakes to direct the vehicle away from traffic if the driver fails to steer or brake following system warnings. The obstacle avoidance demonstration was conducted for the first time in North America at the Dearborn Development Center test track in Michigan.

Obstacle avoidance uses three radars, ultrasonic sensors and a camera to scan the road as far as 656 feet (200 meters) ahead. If the system detects a slow-moving or stationary object, it first displays a warning, 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 (61 km/h).

This prototype technology represents another milestone in Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility, which envisions a future of automated functionality and advanced technologies to help improve safety, reduce congestion and achieve major environmental improvements. The sensor-based technologies found in driver-assist and semi-automated features such as obstacle avoidance and fully assisted parking aid form the building blocks for the future of automated driving.

The test car is 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.

Using similar sensor and automated vehicle control technology, Ford also recently unveiled fully assisted parking aid, a prototype technology that lets customers park their vehicles at the touch of a button, or even by remote control.

The concept builds on Ford’s current active park assist feature, which automatically steers the car into a parallel parking space while the driver controls the shifting, accelerator and brake. Fully assisted parking aid can find a perpendicular parking space using ultrasonic sensors. From inside, the driver pushes a button to activate the system; from outside the vehicle, fully assisted parking aid can be remotely activated, allowing customers to wait until the vehicle has pulled out of a tight parking spot before entering.


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