Ford Intelligent Vehicles preview
Ford is already delivering top fuel economy performance for drivers with at least 12 vehicles that lead their sales segments in fuel economy – including four vehicles with EPA-certified 40 mpg or higher fuel economy ratings – a claim no other full-line automaker can match. Ford’s comprehensive sustainability plan also includes a full family of electrified vehicles, with five new electrified vehicles planned for North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013. Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010, and in addition to the Focus Electric in late 2011, will introduce C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid in 2012.
Ford hits the gas on vehicle communications
After a decade of research, Ford announced earlier this year an accelerated development of its intelligent vehicle work, doubling its research investment and convening a new 20-member task force – consisting of company planners, engineers and scientists from around the world with expertise in safety, eco-mobility, infotainment and driver conveniences. The goal is to define the next 10 years of safety, convenience and driver assistance, and strengthen the company’s position as the global industry leader in connected vehicle technology.
“While there are challenges ahead, the foundation of these smarter vehicles is advanced versions of technologies that are pervasive – Wi-Fi and crash avoidance systems that Ford has pioneered in mainstream vehicles today,” said Mascarenas. “Intelligent vehicles could help warn drivers of numerous potential dangers such as a car running a red light but blocked from the view of a driver properly entering the intersection.”
Speaking the same language
Ford is partnering with other automakers and the federal government, as well as local and county road commissions, to create a common language that ensures all vehicles can talk to each other based on a common communication standard.
This public-private partnership will include the world’s first government-sponsored driving clinics beginning in summer 2011, for which the company will contribute two prototype Ford Taurus sedans. The DOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) will head the research, continuing to coordinate with a coalition of automakers organized by the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), which is a joint research group headed by Ford and General Motors. The partnership is working to develop inter-operability standards in advance of completing the research phase in 2013.
“Ford has laid the groundwork to give vehicles a voice with SYNC and Wi-Fi technology,” said Jim Vondale, director, Ford Automotive Safety Office. “Now we’re working with other automakers and government leaders worldwide to develop common standards globally to bring intelligent vehicles to market quicker and more affordably.”
Vondale has been appointed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to represent automakers on the ITS Advisory Committee. Mike Shulman, technical leader, Ford Research and Innovation, leads the government-industry technical partnership as program manager for CAMP.
Laying the connectivity groundwork
Many of Ford’s current technologies show how intelligent vehicles will be able to help drivers. For example, features that alert drivers to approaching hazards, such as Ford’s collision warning with brake support and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert rely on radar sensors to detect vehicles or objects close to the vehicle.
“Ford has pioneered connectivity in modern vehicles with SYNC,” said Shulman. “We believe advanced Wi-Fi for intelligent vehicles could be added to smartphones or GPS systems and simply connect to SYNC like today’s phones.”