Ford has developed new technology that can help motorists to steer clear of ditches and drops on rural drops. Driving in such rural areas, especially at night time on unlit roads can prove to be quite dangerous when the edges of roads are unmarked and they give way to open land, muddy ditches and sheer drops.
Ford’s new technology named Edge Detection has the capability to scan the road ahead and to gently steer the vehicle back on track when it is needed. The automaker does however make it clear that the driver assist features are supplemental and cannot be depended upon as a substitute for the driver’s attention, judgement and need to control the vehicle.
The system has been conceptualized for use on rural roads at speeds of 45-70mph/70-112kph. The Road Edge Detection comprises a camera which is located below the rearview mirror and keeps tabs on road edges 50m in front of the vehicle and 7m to the side. Working using an advanced algorithm, the technology when added to Ford’s existing Lane-Keeping Aid is able to assess when there are clear structural changes from the road to the area beside the road. It also has the capability to provide steering support on marked roads when the lane marking is obscured or hidden by snow, leaves or rain. The system automatically provides gentle steering support when a paved road becomes a soft verge, gravel hard shoulder or grass, in order to prevent the vehicle from drifting off the carriageway.
In the event that the driver is still close to the edge following initial steering support, the system vibrates the steering wheel, in order to gently nudge the driver into steering the vehicle to safety. During night time, the system uses the illumination from the headlights and it is as effective as during the day.
Road Edge Detection as part of Lane-Keeping Aid will be provided as a standard feature on Focus, Kuga and Puma, and it will also be a part of the expanding driver assistance technologies being rolled out to new Ford vehicles.
Rüdiger Kieneke, Ford Driver Assistance and Safety Electronics engineer, said: “Rural roads can be every bit as challenging for drivers as urban streets – especially for those who may be unfamiliar with their route. Road Edge Detection helps alleviate one concern to make journeys more comfortable and easier.”
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