|Ford is beginning real-world testing of V2X technologies such as Electronic Brake Light (i.e., to alert for an out-of-sight braking event, e.g., smaller car in front of larger van as illustrated) as part of the simTD trials. Click to enlarge.|
Ford Motor Company is contributing 20 specially equipped S-MAX models to the simTD V2X (vehicle-to-x) project now underway in Germany. (Earlier post, earlier post.) The simTD project is fielding a fleet of 120 vehicles to to test 20 experimental driver assistance technologies. The project’s goal is to better understand the potential for car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication technologies to improve traffic safety and personal mobility.
The increasing use of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technology is part of Ford’s “Blueprint for Mobility,” which was outlined by Executive Chairman Bill Ford during his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. (Earlier post.) The “Blueprint for Mobility” details the company’s early thinking on how to tackle the issues of mobility in an increasingly crowded and urbanized planet between now and 2025.
Engineers from Ford’s European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany and simTD research project partners have up to now tested the V2X developmental technologies in a controlled environment. The technologies will now be tested on public roads in and around Frankfurt in real-world driving conditions. Technologies being tested as part of the simTD research project include:
Electronic Brake Light, which delivers a message from the lead vehicle to a following vehicle if an emergency braking procedure is carried out, even if the incident occurs out-of-sight, for example around a bend in the road. Ford is leading the development and integration of this application.
Obstacle Warning system, which enables a vehicle to inform other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous obstacles on the road.
Traffic Sign Assistant, which 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.
Public Traffic Management, which provides exact traffic prognosis based on comprehensive information. This includes identifying likely traffic scenarios and their impact at the point in the journey when they are encountered rather than at the point of departure.
In-car internet access, which, for example, can enable the driver to reserve and pay for parking en-route.
In 2004, Ford engaged in a partnership with Minnesota Department of Transportation to equip 100 state vehicles with sensors to collect traffic-related data including vehicle speed, location, direction and even localized weather conditions, with the aim of developing the next generation of transportation and driver information systems.
Ford was also the first vehicle manufacturer in the US to demonstrate intelligent vehicle communication technologies to the public, with a multi-city tour that began in 2010.
The company continues its involvement in such testing programs in Europe, the US and elsewhere in the world, with the objective of harmonizing global standards for messaging and hardware.
The funding for the simTD project is approximately €53 million (US$65.7 million), of which €30 million (US$37 million) of direct project promotional support has been provided by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
The project is further supported by infrastructure investment from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs as well as funding from the state of Hessen. The consortium involves representatives from all major interest groups, including Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Opel, Volkswagen, Bosch, Continental, Deutsche Telekom, regional infrastructure operators and German Research Institutions (Technische Universität München und Berlin, Universität Würzburg, Fraunhofer).