Ford demonstrates obstacle avoidance technology

Ford test car automatically steers around objects or stopped or slowing vehicles

Published: December 16, 2013, 4:00 AM

Ford Edge Concept

The Ford Edge Concept that debuted last month at the Los Angeles Auto Show was said to feature a new semi-automated obstacle avoidance technology.
Since then, Ford has demonstrated a test car equipped with a prototype version of that technology, which automatically steers and brakes to direct the vehicle away from traffic if the driver fails to do so following system warnings.

Ford’s obstacle avoidance system uses automatic steering and braking to avoid collisions with vehicles that are stopped or slowing in the same lane ahead. 

The system first issues warnings if it detects slow-moving objects or stationary obstacles ahead. If the driver fails to steer or brake following those warnings, the system will then do so automatically to avoid a collision. 

Ford demonstrated the obstacle avoidance system for the first time in North America at its Dearborn Development Center test track in Michigan, in a Ford Focus developed at the company's research facility in Aachen, Germany.

The test car is said to result from the findings of a four-year research project called interactIVe (Accident Avoidance by Active Intervention of Intelligent Vehicles), a Ford-led consortium consisting of 29 partners.

Ford says the obstacle avoidance is built on the foundation of several driver-assist technologies now offered in many Ford vehicles.

It uses three radars, ultrasonic sensors and a camera to scan the road as far as 200 metres ahead. If the system detects a slow-moving or stationary object, it first displays a warning, then sounds a chime. 

If the driver fails to steer or brake to take corrective action, the obstacle avoidance technology applies the brakes, scans for gaps on either side of the hazard, and takes control of the electronic power steering to avoid a collision. The technology has been tested at speeds greater than 60 km/h.

Ford says the sensor-based technologies found in driver-assist and semi-automated features like obstacle avoidance form the building blocks for the future of automated driving.