Looking well ahead is a vital part of safer driving but, what if drivers could ‘see’ over the brow of the hill or around the next corner.
Technology moves at such speed these days most of us are inured to changes in that landscape but that is not stopping people from trying to make life safer for all of us – and Ford now has a system that does allow ‘seeing around the corner’.
Thanks to Ford’s new connected car technology, Local Hazard Information (LHI) marks a significant step on the journey towards a connected transport infrastructure by helping drivers prepare for and potentially avoid dangers on the road.
When drivers ahead encounter sudden tailbacks, accidents or spilled loads, the driver behind – and possibly out of sight – is given advance warning. This could also apply to everything from freak hailstorms, to sudden flooding or even landslides.
The triggers for the system come from what is happening in the cars ahead. It could be that crash bags have been activated, hazard warning lights are flashing or windscreen wipers are in operation.
Previous traffic incident alert systems have relied on drivers to input information in order to generate alerts, whereas LHI works autonomously, without the need for any driver interaction, to generate information and issue warnings.
Hazards are only displayed – via the dashboard display – if the incident is likely to impact on the driver’s journey. LHI is designed to be more beneficial to drivers than hazard information from current radio broadcasting systems, which often deliver notifications not relevant to them.
Already featuring as standard and free of charge for the first year on the new Ford Puma, LHI technology is being rolled out across more than 80% of Ford’s passenger vehicle line-up. Crucially, the benefit will not be limited only to those travelling in Ford vehicles. Information sent can be used to alert drivers of other manufacturers’ vehicles, and vice-versa.
“What makes Local Hazard Information different is it is the cars that are connected – via the Internet of Things. There is no reliance on third party apps. This is a significant step forward. Warnings are specific, relevant and tailored to try to help improve your specific journey,” says Joerg Beyer, executive director, Engineering, Ford of Europe
Sensors monitor activities including emergency braking, fog lights and traction control to detect adverse weather or road conditions. Data from these activities is then computed to determine the hazard location and whether a traffic incident has occurred.
The vehicle automatically provides updates through a secure connection to ‘the cloud’ using the Ford Pass Connect modem. Ford’s technology partner HERE Technologies operates the central cloud-based platform that collates information from multiple vehicle brands, governed by a business-to-business agreement.
The more cars are connected to the network, the greater the efficiency of the system. When many vehicles generate the same warning, others in the vicinity receive incident information from the cloud via the cellular network, enabling drivers to reduce speed or take appropriate action.
Additional information is sourced from public authority incident databases and traffic reports to provide drivers with further advance warnings including approaching vehicles driving on the wrong side of the carriageway, animals or people in the road ahead, and roadworks.