DEARBORN — Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) commitment to development and deployment of vehicle-to-vehicle communications extends to a real-world test site in Ann Arbor. The test is part of an experiment with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan that will enable future developments in traffic safety and technology.
The yearlong program launching this fall will enable wireless communications among vehicles and roadside equipment for use in developing future safety measures and technologies. Nearly 3,000 vehicles will participate in the test on more than 70 lane-miles of instrumented roadway.
“Ford has been committed to the research and development of vehicle-to-vehicle communications for more than a decade,” said Robert Brown, Ford vice president for Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “We have been a lead partner within the consortium of auto manufacturers and the U.S. DOT working together to develop global standards for safety applications.”
Ford is providing cars equipped with experimental vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology to collect data for the U.S. test. Data collected will be used to evaluate the performance of various safety applications in use and help enhance future development of V2V communications. Consumer feedback for this new technology also will be analyzed.
“Today is a big moment for automotive safety,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This cutting-edge technology offers real promise for improving both the safety and efficiency of our roads. That is a winning combination for drivers across America.”
Ford supports the research effort because the company recognizes the need for all automakers to transmit fully tested standardized messages to each other to help realize potential benefits of this technology.
At the conclusion of this test, it is anticipated the U.S. DOT may consider rulemaking related to these technologies.
Ford’s vehicle communications technology allows cars to talk wirelessly with one another using advanced Wi-Fi signals, or dedicated short-range communications, on a secured channel allocated by the Federal Communications Commission. The Wi-Fi-based radio system allows detection and then notification of potentially dangerous situations that the driver may not be able to see yet.
The system works by having every equipped vehicle broadcast a short message to nearby vehicles, with information about vehicle position, speed and predicted path of travel. Vehicles with the capability to receive this message may be able to determine if another vehicle is on a path that potentially could lead to a crash.
Ford is rapidly expanding its commitment to intelligent vehicles that can wirelessly talk to each other, when appropriate, to warn of potential dangers to enhance safety and identify impending traffic congestion for more efficient driving.
“People talk about intelligent vehicles, or cars talking to each other, like it’s something out of The Jetsons,” said Mike Shulman, technical leader for Ford Active Safety Research and Innovation. “But it shouldn’t sound like science fiction. Mostly, the cars will be sending messages to each other and people won’t even know about it except on the rare occasions when they need a warning or help understanding what’s going on around their vehicle.”
Ford is working closely with governments, standards organizations and other global automakers to develop harmonized standards to support and accelerate development and deployment of this technology. Ford and other global manufacturers need aligned standards in order to support their global vehicle platforms and to develop reliable, cost-effective wireless systems.
Ford also is participating in field trials of other applications of this new technology in Germany and around Europe as part of a research program aimed at advancing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication on European roads to improve traffic safety and personal mobility.
Specifically, Ford is contributing 20 specially equipped S-MAX models to a 120-vehicle fleet being used to test 20 experimental driver assistance technologies as part of a four-year research project, “Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany,” or sim.
“Our participation in this research is pivotal to the delivery of the next generation of Ford driver assistance technologies that will globally benefit Ford customers, other road users and the environment,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation.
The increasing use of wireless communication is part of Ford’s “Blueprint for Mobility,” which was outlined by Executive Chairman Bill Ford during his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year. The “Blueprint for Mobility” details the company’s early thinking on how to tackle the issues of mobility in an increasingly crowded and urbanized planet between now and 2025.