engineers at its European Research Centre in Aachen have been involved in the development of the simTD testing platforms, which allow more than 20 functionalities to be demonstrated and tested under real world conditions together for the first time.
simTD is a joint research project that began in 2008 with the aim of developing car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication systems that could contribute to increased road safety and deliver better efficiency from existing traffic infrastructures – potentially improving traffic flow and reducing CO2 emissions.
“Talking cars are no longer merely the stuff of children’s movies, but are now closer than ever to becoming a reality for Ford drivers,”said Martin Wiecker, research engineer, Ford Global Driver Assistance and Active Safety. “Ford has been researching the potential for car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications for some time, which potentially offer considerable benefits in terms of safety and convenience for all road users.”
At Aachen, Ford is developing the Electronic Brake Light function and has been also involved in the Obstacle Warning and Traffic Sign Assistant programs. Ford has developed systems that can transfer messages at high speed between cars or between the road infrastructure and vehicles, using wireless communications technology.
Drivers can be given advanced warning of hazards, changing conditions and varying road regulations beyond the driver’s field of vision or the vehicle's sensors such as radar, light detection system or camera.
The Electronic Brake Light system utilises car-to-car communications technology to deliver a message from the lead vehicle to a following vehicle if an emergency braking procedure is carried out.
Systems on board the lead vehicle detect when the driver performs a hard braking action and transmit a message containing information on vehicle position, speed, direction and the rate of vehicle deceleration, which the following vehicle is able to receive and decode.
If the following vehicle interprets that its driver may need to take avoiding action, a visual and audible warning is delivered to the cabin, reduce the risk of accidents particularly in situations where visibility is reduced by weather, heavy traffic or bends in the road.
Similar benefits are offered by the Obstacle Warning system, through which a vehicle can inform other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous obstacles on the road – such as an object which has fallen from a van or truck – allowing following vehicles to determine from the detailed message whether the obstacle location poses a risk.
Ford engineers have also been involved in testing the Traffic Sign Assistant system as part of the simTD research project. Traffic Sign Assistant utilises car-to-infrastructure capabilities to keep drivers informed of changing traffic regulations en-route.
Traffic Sign Assistant 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.
Ford engineers are currently researching and developing future applications that will offer more than visual warnings to drivers – priming safety systems and taking accident avoidance measures in response to warnings from other intelligent vehicles.
The simTD research project is a joint project involving Ford, suppliers, members of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), telecommunications companies and research institutions.