|Ford Edge Concept. Click to enlarge.|
At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford introduced a set of new prototype automated driving technologies in the Ford Edge Concept. The sensor-based driver-assist technologies and semi-automated features in Edge Concept form the building blocks for the future of automated driving, and will help make driving safer and more efficient, Ford said.
Fully assisted parking aid, a prototype technology, 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. It can find a perpendicular parking space using ultrasonic sensors.
|Global utility market|
|Data provided by IHS Automotive indicate global utility vehicle sales grew 45% between 2007 and 2012. The utility segment now accounts for more than 13 million sales annually—175 of the global automotive market.|
|Utility vehicle sales in China are projected to grow significantly, by more than 100% from 2012 to 2017, according to IHS Automotive. In South America the utility segment is projected to grow 39%, and in Europe it is projected to grow 27% over the same period.|
|The current Ford Edge remains a segment sales leader in the United States. Edge is especially well-received in Southern California, where it accounts for nearly one in four sales this year of five-passenger medium utility vehicles. With market share of 23%, Ford Edge is the best-selling five-passenger utility vehicle in Southern California, according to Ford analysis of retail registration data from R.L. Polk.|
|Moreover, US Ford-brand utility sales overall are up 12% through October compared to last year, and Ford utility vehicles will be America’s best-selling utility brand for three straight years in 2013, as it is outpacing the nearest competitor by 32% through October.|
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.
Using similar sensor and automated vehicle control technology, Ford has also begun a research project designed to refine advanced obstacle avoidance systems. The system uses three radars, ultrasonic sensors and a camera to scan the road up to more than 218 yards ahead The system issues warnings if it detects a slow-moving or stationary object in the lane ahead. If necessary, the system will automatically steer and brake the vehicle to avoid a collision.
Adaptive steering, another new technology from Ford featured on Edge Concept, makes steering at low speeds significantly easier, and steering in all conditions feel more confident and engaging. The technology, which builds on Ford’s electric power-assisted steering system, controls the relationship between how much the driver turns the wheel and how much the road wheels turn. This means that low-speed steering—such as pulling into or out of a parking space—requires much less turning of the wheel.
Ford Edge Concept also features many of the automated driver-assist technologies that the company offers on its global products today. These include:
Active park assist, which can ease the stress of parallel parking by using sensors and the steering system to guide a vehicle into a parking spot; the driver controls the gas and brake pedals. Available on 12 Ford models today.
Lane-Keeping System, which uses a forward-facing camera that can scan the road surface for lane markings. The system can evaluate if the vehicle is drifting out of its lane and then alert the driver by vibrating the steering wheel. If the driver does not respond to the vibrations, the system provides steering torque to nudge the vehicle back toward the center of the lane. Available on 11 Ford models today.
Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, which uses radar to detect moving vehicles immediately ahead, and can modify cruising speed if necessary. Available on 10 Ford models today.
Blind Spot Information System, which uses radar sensors in the rear corners that monitor the spaces next to and just behind the vehicle. On the road, these sensors trigger a warning light in the mirror when there is another vehicle in the driver’s blind spot. Available on 13 Ford models today.
Fuel efficiency. To aid the fuel efficiency of a next-generation EcoBoost engine with start-stop technology, the Edge Concept has a new high-tech application of Active Grille Shutters. The shutters automatically open and close to maintain ideal engine operating temperature and maximize aerodynamic efficiency. When activated, a panel slips down from above, then two more move into place, appearing as if they radiate from the Ford oval.
To improve efficiency further, air curtains are positioned on the lower part of the fascia. The air curtains and ducting are designed to guide air from the front of the vehicle, out through the front wheel wells and down the vehicle side.