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Ford and Jaguar Land Rover reveal fruits of autonomous tech partnership

Ford and Jaguar Land Rover have teamed up to work on a number of new technologies that will help cars drive autonomously.

The manufacturers have been working on a vehicle system that allows cars to communicate with traffic lights so the driver never has to stop for a red light – a pastime drivers are estimated to spend two days a year doing.

Another new safety system demonstrated at the MIRA autonomous tech event is Advanced Highway Assist, which will make a vehicle overtake and stay in its lane on a motorway without the driver having to touch the pedals or steering wheel.

Then there is Electronic Emergency Brake Light Assist, which warns the driver if a vehicle has severely slowed down ahead up to 500 metres ahead, even if said vehicle is out of sight around the next corner or covered by thick fog.

The aforementioned ‘Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory’ keeps drivers from having to stop at a red lights by providing an optimal speed for a driver to avoid them, which has the added bonus of making each drive more eco-friendly.

“Enabling drivers to ride the green wave… means a smoother, continuous journey that helps to improve the flow of traffic and provide significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption,” Ford Research and Advanced Engineering supervisor Christian Ress explained.

Trials of the traffic light system will begin on 41 miles of public roads in Milton Keynes and Coventry over the next two years. Amsterdam is already home to a similar technology, which benefits both cyclists and motorists.

Jaguar is set to make use of a fleet of more than 100 research vehicles as part of its plan to test and develop autonomous technologies over the next four years.

“We know that there is a huge potential for these technologies in future vehicles around the world,” Jaguar Land Rover head of research Tony Harper said.

“Until now we have focussed on communication between Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, this collaborative approach is a major stepping stone towards all connected and autonomous vehicles co-operating with each other in the future,” he added.

2017 will also see testing of technologies that warn the driver if an emergency services vehicle is approaching, if a junction is blocked by another vehicle and prioritise vehicles arriving at intersections that lack traffic signs or traffic lights.

UK Autodrive, which will facilitate the testing, is being funded by £20-million of public money from the Government and is part of a plan to make the UK a world-leader in autonomous technologies.

Audi is another manufacturer interested in helping traffic flow better. It unveiled its own traffic light whispering technology back at CES in 2013.

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