Ford providing smart solutions to market's unique challenges

Updated 2017-07-03 11:28:32 China Daily
Visitors look at Ford's SUV model Edge at an auto show in Chongqing.

Visitors look at Ford's SUV model Edge at an auto show in Chongqing.

Engineers at Ford Motor Company are testing a number of driver assist technologies in China as part of their effort to help people to adapt to challenging traffic conditions in the world's largest automotive market.

One of them is its adaptive cruise control that will help drivers keep up with constantly changing traffic speeds.

The feature will constantly scan for vehicles in front and automatically adjust one's vehicle speed to keep a safe distance.

The lane centering assist feature will help to keep vehicles safely in the center of their respective lanes with minimal driver effort. Ford believes the function would prove especially useful in China, where more than 28 million vehicles were sold in 2016.

That means some 76,000 additional vehicles hit Chinese roads every single day last year. The pressure on road conditions created by those vehicles makes it increasingly likely drivers will face a stressful commute, traffic congestion and even gridlocks.

"We put ourselves in our customer's shoes every day and are passionate in coming up with the technological advances to face tomorrow's traffic realities," said Trevor Worthington, vice-president of Ford Asia-Pacific responsible for product development.

Ford is also helping to cut the time drivers spend waiting for green lights with vehicle-to-infrastructure technology that links vehicles to road systems.

A recent study in the United Kingdom showed that being stopped by red lights along the way takes up about one-fifth of typical commute times.

Work is underway at test sites, including the Shanghai International Automobile City, where connected test zones allow the sharing of data about traffic conditions from the infrastructure itself directly with test vehicles.

The connected system relies on roadside monitors and data transmitters-contained in traffic light structures and overhead gantries-to collect and share real-time traffic information.

A system called Traffic Light Optimal Speed Advisory uses that data to calculate the ideal speed for the journey to reduce wait time at red lights.

"Imagine your daily commute with less waiting time for red lights," said Thomas Lukaszewicz, an automated driving manager at Ford.

"Vehicle-to-infrastructure technology under development now holds great promise to make commuting smoother and less time-consuming."

Earlier this year, Ford started testing a feature called Left Turn Assist. The feature uses information exchanged between vehicles to alert drivers of oncoming traffic while making a left turn.

Ford said it offers an added layer of safety against collision risks in the event the driver's view is blocked or compromised.

According to data from the Shanghai United Road Traffic Safety Scientific Research Center, 89 percent of side-impact accidents in China take place at intersections, reflecting an acute need for collision avoidance technology and features that contribute to a less stressful driving experience.

"Asking ourselves what would make drivers' lives less stressful, we continuously explore new features that can help them navigate through traffic more easily and safely," said Worthington. "We will simulate some of the challenging conditions, knowing that most cars on the road at this time will not be connected. We look forward to using the facility to continue our pursuit of providing a safer and more pleasant driving experience in China."

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