Ford said this week that it’s rolling out a driver-assist system that, at least in some cases, may be able to keep cars from running into pedestrians, or if they do, lessen the likelihood of death or serious injury.
That’s huge, in my opinion, but there’s more. The system, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, can also help drivers avoid all-too-common rear-end collisions.
Ford will launch the system as available technology on its 2015 Mondeo in Europe. From there the plan is to offer it on other Ford and Lincoln cars around the world.
The system has limitations including nighttime, low and harsh lighting conditions, vehicles moving in a different direction, and certain weather conditions – but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. In daylight and clear weather, Pedestrian Detection is designed to spot people in or near the road ahead, or crossing the vehicle’s path.
Full Braking Force
Ford’s system uses radar and camera technology to scan the roadway ahead, and if a collision risk with a vehicle or pedestrian is detected the system provides both an audible and a visual warning to the driver. If the driver does not respond in time, the system can automatically apply up to full braking force – reducing the gap between brake pads and discs – to help reduce the severity of or eliminate some collisions.
Pedestrian Detection works at lower speeds but Pre-Collision Assist works at all speeds.
The system processes information collected from a windshield-mounted camera and radar located near the bumper. It then checks the information against a database of pedestrian shapes to help distinguish people from typical roadside scenery and objects.
Ford engineers tested the system on closed test tracks using rigs fitted with manikins to replicate pedestrians. They then spent months refining the technology on roads around the world to test system reliability.
“This real-world testing was an important part of the development, because pedestrians in an urban setting can present a wide range of potential situations,” said Scott Lindstrom, Ford manager, Driver Assist Technologies. “We covered more than 300,000 miles on three continents that included a wide range of settings and situations.”