Ford has developed a fancy brake light warning system that allows drivers to ‘see through’ the car in front of them – sort of. The experimental technology, known as ‘Electronic Brake Light’, lets drivers know when someone two cars ahead has activated their brakes, even if that car is obscured by the vehicle directly in front.
Cars equipped with Electronic Brake Light technology use onboard computers that analyse a vehicle’s speed, heading and location using GPS. Should the driver initiate an emergency stop, an alert is sent wirelessly to trailing vehicles which, in prototype form, are equipped with screens that display a caution message.
In case studies involving 50 test drivers in 120 vehicles – including 20 Ford S-Max models – the system was proven to allow drivers to brake earlier, potentially mitigating or avoiding a collision.
Ford has been testing this so-called car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technology in other ways. Its system can, theoretically, form part of an Obstacle Warning system, which alerts drivers to the presence, position and type of hazardous objects in the road. It’s also working on a Traffic Sign Assistant that keeps the car in touch with traffic management centres for up-to-date information.
“Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications represent one of the next major advancements in vehicle safety,” commented Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation. “Ford is committed to further real-world testing here and around the world with the goal of implementation in the foreseeable future.”
Ford’s Car-to-x technology is being tested as part of the Safe Intelligent Mobility Testfield Germany project.