Today’s cars are a veritable cornucopia of safety acronyms, from ABS to ESC and now LDW, among dozens of others. But most of the technologies are self-contained on the individual vehicle. Many believe the next frontier in vehicle safety will be car-to-car active safety, with vehicles able to communicate with each other to minimize hazard or injury. Ford, along with other German auto manufacturers, is testing a prototype emergency brake warning system that relies on a wireless signal transmitted from car to car.
In an example, Ford shows a pedestrian walking across the street near a corner with a vehicle rounding the curve. In another, two vehicles equipped with the system are separated by a vehicle between them not equipped with the system. Even with the vehicles separated in their lane by another, they’re able to communicate, and give an audio or visual warning to the following driver, and the technological feasibility of automatic braking without the need for a direct visual obstacle, as is the case with Subaru’s EyeSight system and other camera-based automatic braking systems.
Of course, the downside to this system compared to self-contained systems such as EyeSight, is that it requires both vehicles to be equipped with the system, which would require a universal standard and mandatory installation. The system being demonstrated by Ford is one of 20 being tested currently in Germany in a joint project between German auto manufacturers, and the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Ford is also involved with the University of Michigan’s Safety Pilot Model Deployment, a field test of more than 2800 vehicles.