Ford making driving at night safer for pedestrians

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The fear that comes with driving at night

The fear that comes with driving at night

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For some, driving at night can be a daunting task. At times, it might even be downright terrifying. Lots of danger lurks in places where the lights don't shine as brightly.

Plenty of you are reading this and scoffing at the idea of being afraid of driving when it's dark out. You shouldn't because a fair amount of the populace truly doesn't enjoy driving when the sun has gone to bed. Also, think of just how poorly a lot of folks drive during the daytime and remember that it all ramps up at night.

Ford is working to help alleviate the fears associated with nighttime driving. The automaker has instituted technology that senses pedestrians at night. Once detected, the system will then apply the brakes if the driver has not heeded the initial warnings.

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Ford has had Pedestrian Detection technology before, but it now works at night. To test the new version, Ford tossed life-sized dummies into the paths of vehicles on dimly lit, closed testing tracks. Ford is also testing the system in cities like Paris and Amsterdam.

Using radar in the bumper and a camera in the windshield, the system maps images against a database of stored pedestrian shapes. That camera will grab 30 images per second, and does this even in low-light situations. If a detected shape matches that of one in the stored database, the car starts hollering warnings both audibly and visually. From there, if no action is taken, the car will apply the brakes on its own.

That's pretty important because, according to NHTSA, three in four pedestrian deaths in 2015 happened during the dark hours of the day.

This technology will make its way into the next-generation Fiesta in Europe. Here in the States, we'll find it on the 2018 F-150 and Mustang.

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