24-Jul-2014 | Cologne, Germany
Tackling the Paris Grand Prix: How City Rush Hour Posed Ultimate Test for Ford Automatic Braking Technology
- Ford tests automatic braking technology on some of Europe’s toughest commuting roads at the worst possible time – Paris during rush hour traffic
- Paris is among 10 most congested cities in Europe with notorious junctions like the Place de l’Etoile at the Arc de Triomphe, where 12 major avenues converge
- Ford’s Active City Stop helps reduce severity of rear-end collisions and can even prevent an accident entirely. Testing found that automatic braking system activated when there was a risk of rear-end collisions
- Advanced version of Active City Stop, which operates at speeds of up to 50 km/h, debuts on the new Ford Focus that goes on sale in Europe later this year
- New Focus also will debut new Perpendicular Parking that helps drivers reverse into spaces alongside other vehicles, and Park-Out Assist that helps drivers exit parallel spaces
Monaco might be the highlight of the Grand Prix calendar, but for regular drivers it’s the streets of Paris that provide the ultimate challenge. The French capital is renowned as one of the most stressful places to drive, with bumper-to-bumper traffic, dangerous junctions and drivers pushing through the narrowest gaps.
And it was these conditions that made it the ideal test ground for Ford’s automatic braking technology, Active City Stop. Having already conducted a comprehensive closed track development and testing process, engineers looked for a challenging real-world environment to test the system to the limit.
“Paris streets are not for the faint-hearted, with multiple lanes of fast-moving traffic competing for space, and busy junctions testing the nerves of even skilled drivers,” said Nils Gerber, technical expert, Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering, Ford of Europe. “We knew these streets would be perfect to help test Active City Stop in conditions that are simply not possible to replicate on the test track.”
An advanced version of Active City Stop, which operates at speeds of up to 50 km/h, debuts on the new Ford Focus that goes on sale in Europe later this year.
Active City Stop’s sophisticated light detecting and ranging sensor scans the road ahead 50 times every second, enabling the system to help reduce the severity of rear-end collisions, and in some cases even prevent an accident entirely.
If the driver does not react in time to traffic that is slowing or stopped ahead the system brakes, reduces engine torque, and activates the rear hazard lights.
For the test, professional drivers with local knowledge drove vehicles along busy Paris streets – ranked among the 10 most congested in Europe* – and through notorious junctions like the Place de l’Etoile at Arc de Triomphe, where 12 major avenues converge.
For the purposes of safety the automatic braking function was disabled during the tests. But engineers were able to monitor and analyse the system to see when it would have deployed and to ensure the brakes were only triggered when there was a risk of rear-end collisions. They then examined specific events in more detail using real-time video of the traffic conditions.
“Paris is a very good place for this kind of test – you encounter all kinds of driving situations,” said Pascal Houssais, a professional chauffeur, who took part in the test. “Drivers can be very unpredictable, changing lanes without any warning, and people are always in a hurry.”
The latest Paris testing allowed Ford engineers to cover over 4,000 kilometres in five days with Mondeo and Tourneo Connect prototypes during peak traffic conditions. The real-world tests enabled the team to sign off the system as production ready for each model.
Active City Stop has proved a fast success with European drivers after first being introduced on the Ford Focus in 2011. More than 170,000 Ford vehicles across Europe are now equipped with the technology that has since been extended to the Fiesta, B-MAX, C-MAX, Grand C-MAX, Kuga, Transit Connect and Tourneo Connect.
New Focus also will introduce advanced technology for safer and less stressful parking. Perpendicular Parking will help drivers reverse hands-free into spaces alongside other cars; Cross Traffic Alert will warn drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them; and Park-Out Assist will helps drivers exit a parallel parking space.
Looking ahead, Ford researchers are developing a Fully Assisted Parking Aid that could enable drivers to park with only the push of a button from inside or outside of their car. Ford also is investigating advanced systems to help improve road safety based on car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications. This includes an Electronic Emergency Brake Light that could alert drivers even around corners and through traffic.
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* Congestion ranking from the latest TomTom traffic index for Europe http://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/trafficindex/