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Ford night driving tech detailed
Pedestrian detection that works at night will show up on new-gen Ford Fiesta
17 Mar 2017
FORD of Europe is working to alleviate driver’s anxiety about colliding with a person on the road at night by developing new pedestrian detection technology that works in the dark.
The Blue Oval already uses pedestrian detection tech in some of its models, but this the first time the system can function at night, and it will make its production debut in the forthcoming new-generation Fiesta.
Ford says its system processes information from the radar that is housed in the bumper and a windscreen-mounted camera, while a database of “pedestrian shapes” allows the system to differentiate between people and other things such as trees or road signs.
The camera – which Ford says operates faster than a cinema projector – processes more than 30 snapshots per second, while a video live-feed and wide viewing angle ensures that the system identifies pedestrians even in low light and illuminated only by the headlights.
If a collision with a pedestrian is detected, the vehicle gives audible and visual warnings and if the driver fails to respond, the brakes are automatically applied.
The car-maker showed off the technology last year when a Fusion hybrid autonomous research vehicle drove with no headlights in complete darkness at the Ford Arizona Proving Ground.
The technology was developed by a team who worked at night using life-sized dummies that were moved into the path of vehicles on closed circuits, as well as being tested on public roads in cities such as Amsterdam and Paris.
Ford developed the technology after conducting its own poll that found the biggest concern for people driving at night was so called night blindness, or the fear of hitting something or someone at night.
The poll of thousands of European drivers also found that 81 per cent of drivers were scared to drive at night, which rose to 87 per cent for women. One in five respondents said they were concerned about hitting a pedestrian at night.
Ford says that of the 408 pedestrian fatalities in the United Kingdom in 2015, 48 per cent happened between 6pm and 6am.
“We know some drivers find hitting the road at night a stressful experience,” Ford of Europe active safety engineer Gregor Allexi said. “Especially driving in towns and cities, pedestrians – sometimes distracted by mobiles – can without warning step into the road, leaving even alert drivers very little time to avoid an accident.
“Day and night, Pedestrian Detection is designed to help identify people already in – or about to step into – the road ahead.”
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