In an attempt to address drivers’ fears regarding night blindness and fear of collisions in the dark, Dearborn automaker Ford Motor Co. today announced a new technology designed to detect pedestrians at night and automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t respond to initial warnings. This news follows a poll of night-time driving fears conducted on Ford’s behalf by Opinion Matters from a sample of 5,030 drivers in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
“We know some drivers find hitting the road at night a stressful experience. Especially driving in towns and cities, pedestrians – sometimes distracted by mobiles – can without warning step into the road, leaving even alert drivers very little time to avoid an accident,” says Gregor Allexi, active safety engineer for Ford of Europe. “Day and night, Pedestrian Detection is designed to help identify people already in – or about to step into – the road ahead.”
Of the thousands of European drivers surveyed, 81 percent reported fear about driving at night, rising to 87 percent among women. More than half say poor night vision is a source of stress, and more than a third worry they might be involved in an accident.
Now able to function at night, Pedestrian Detection processes information from a radar located in the bumper, and a windshield‑mounted camera, while a database of “pedestrian shapes” enables the system to distinguish people from objects such as trees and road signs. The camera delivers more than 30 snapshots every second, and a video live-feed and viewing angle enables the system to pick out pedestrians, illuminated only by the vehicle’s headlights. If the system detects an imminent collision with a pedestrian, it first provides audible and visual warnings to the driver, before automatically applying the brakes.
The technology will debut in North America on the 2018 Ford F-150 and Mustang, and later this year, a more advanced pedestrian detection technology is expected to be introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in Europe.