Mike Shulman, a technology leader at Ford, explains current efforts to expand active safety technology in vehicles. As opposed to passive safety technology, in which cars are designed to protect passengers in the event of an accident, active safety technology is designed to avoid an accident in the first place. This is done by designing vehicles that are capable of collecting information from their surroundings: lane markings, other vehicles, traffic signals, etc. The challenge is developing technology that can communicate quickly, frequently, effectively, and securely. But, the potential upside is clear: a dramatic decrease in the number of traffic accidents (early estimates are in the 80% range).
This is why Ford is cooperating with its competitors—virtually every other auto manufacturer—to try to establish an all-inclusive standard for equipping all vehicles with wireless communications technology. Toward that end, the FCC has allocated a certain range of wireless space that is dedicated to this project and shared by the entire industry.
Ford has been showing off these new features by conducting WiFi and crash avoidance demonstrations with its new vehicles. Each is equipped with wireless technology that allows each vehicle to communicate with each other. So, information like which lane a car is in or if another driver is about to run a red light is sent from one vehicle to another, warning the driver of a potential collision. Because the vehicles are communicating with each other in addition to transmitting GPS information, the relative accuracy is surprisingly good: less than one meter.
The idea is to securely transmit safety information about ten times a second that is accurate within one meter.Perhaps even more exciting is the aftermarket possibilities for this technology. For a nominal cost, any vehicle can be equipped with a gadget that will incorporate this technology. There is even discussion about integrating it into smartphones and other devices, which may decrease vehicle/pedestrian accidents as well. In addition, because traffic information could be transmitted more effectively and accurately, drivers could avoid congested areas by responding to constantly updated traffic data.
A look at the antennas and the technology behind the safety systems with Joe Stinnett
We take the Car for a Drive with Ford Engineers Joe Stinnett & Farid Ahmed-Zaid
An Interview with Mike Shulman about some more of the technical details of the systemsand some thoughts about when you can buy this technology and how much it will cost.