Ford Motor Company helped test an early warning car-to-car communication feature that alerts following drivers to vehicles braking ahead even if they are around a corner or behind other traffic.
In emergency braking situations the electronic brake light system transmits a wireless signal to illuminate a dashboard light in cars following behind.
The brake light system is one of 20 potential future systems tested as part of Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany (simTD), a four-year joint industry research project.
The study found that the technology could enable drivers following behind to brake earlier and potentially mitigate or avoid a collision.
Engineers from Ford’s European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany, led the Electronic Brake Light development, testing and data analysis.
Ford used specially-equipped Ford S-MAX models to help test the potential of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication. It also tested an obstacle warning system intended to alert drivers to the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous objects in the road, and Ford tested a traffic sign assistant that maintains contact with traffic management centers to provide up-to-date traffic information.
“Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications represent one of the next major advancements in vehicle safety,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation.
Other technologies tested for simTD included public traffic management and in-car Internet access. Public traffic management provides exact traffic prognosis based on likely traffic scenarios and their impact when they are encountered rather than at the point of departure. In-car Internet Access, among other things, enables the driver to receive information about free parking spaces or to check traffic hotspots by receiving up-to-date pictures from traffic cameras.
The simTD field tests took place in the Frankfurt region and involved 500 test drivers in 120 vehicles – including 20 Ford S-MAX models. Testers logged more than 41,000 hours and 1.6 million kilometers on public roads and an enclosed test track.
simTD is a joint project by leading German automotive manufacturers, component suppliers, communication companies, research institutions and public authorities. Participants include 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 Gesellschaft).
Funding for the project was approximately €53 million, of which €30 million was provided by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).