There are lots of kind of whizzy bright new ideas being kicked around by car makers to make their cars either safer, more interesting or simply to steal a march on the competition but whilst they make look good on paper, more often than not, they never go into production, simply because they don’t actually work in the real world. So Mr. Ford has embarked on a research programme to test some of its technology on the road as opposed to the science lab.
What’s referred to as “Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications” apparently will represent the next huge advances in vehicle safety.
“Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany” or SIM are in the process of undertaking 4 year research project to help better understand the potential for car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication technologies to improve traffic safety and personal mobility. SIM will use around 120 cars in the programme and Ford Motor Company is to provide them with 20 specially equipped S-Max models to test driver assistance technologies
If you’ve driven a modern well specified car, you will already have experienced things like the Mercedes Distronic intelligent cruise control or lane departure warning systems, automated headlight, wipers and even Fords active park assist which will literally, squeeze you car into a curb side parking slot (that you probably didn’t think possible), but these are just the start and its believed, with every car eventually talking too each other, its going to mean its hypothetically possible to stop them hitting each other? Integration seems to be the word (and there’s me thinking “Grease” was the word).
So these new tests will take place on public roads, in and around Frankfurt and give engineers from Ford’s European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany and the SIM research project partners more of an idea if they can ever actually become a reality.
Stuff being tested includes:-
- Obstacle Warning System, which will enable a vehicle to inform other road users of the presence, position and type of a potentially hazardous obstacle in the road.
- In car internet access, so that drivers can for example reserve and pay for their parking whilst still on route and indeed, I’m sure we could all think of things we could do with live internet in your car.
- An electronic brake light that can take a message from the vehicle up front and let the following vehicle know if an emergency braking procedure has taken place, even if its out of sight, say round a corner up ahead.
- Traffic Sign In Assistant will remain in continuous contact with traffic management centres and to get the latest and most up to date information on things like variable speed limits, temporary restrictions and diversions and of course, normal statutory stuff in that area such as speed limits, rights of way etc.
For sure, there are loads of technologies out there now that could easily be used in vehicle design and with the level of in-car sat-nav’s and wot not’s we have now days, it cant seem like a difficult task to integrate this kind of thinking.
You do however ask yourself, how long after its going to be before road safety organizations say that all this is just too much for the driver to handle and just like mobile phones in cars, start getting lots of regulations as to when and how you can use them.
Anyway, its big bucks here because the funding for the SIM project is an eye watering €53million, of which the German Federal Ministry of Economics and technology together with the Federal Ministry of Education & Research are chipping in €30million of direct support for the project.
Early versions of some of these devices are already on cars we drive now and when ever we get a test car with a weird toy fitted, we always want it to impress us and in many cases they do, but even in the times where they don’t quite do what’s claimed on the tin, they do provide us with an insight into just how the way we presently use our cars is going to change and that’s mainly going to be for the better! But what when they go wrong I hear you shout!