Ford Motor Company has begun on-the-road testing of intelligent car technologies that aim to take vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication to the next level. The tests are being carried out under a four year research project titled ‘Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany (simTD)’. Ford is contributing 20 specially equipped S-MAX models to a 120 vehicle fleet in this project which is a practical field test of the potential of intelligent communication systems to improve traffic safety and mobility. Engineers from, Ford’s European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany and the simTD research project have successfully tested the developmental technologies till now in a controlled environment. The technologies will now be tested on public roads in and around Frankfurt in real-world driving conditions. The other partners in the project are Audi, BMW, Daimler, Opel, Volkswagen, Bosch, Continental, Deutsche Telekom, regional infrastructure operators and the German research institutions – Technische Universität München und Berlin and Universität Würzburg, Fraunhofer.
Christian Ress, Technical Expert – Connectivity, Global Driver Assistance & Active Safety, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering Europe, who is coordinating Ford’s efforts in the simTD project, told TrafficInfraTech, “Future cars are expected to be connected to each other and to traffic infrastructure. This will be a major step on the way to our vision of fewer accidents and congestion-free traffic. Wireless communication enables new driver information and warning systems that prepare the driver for upcoming hazards or incidents even if these are out of sight such as behind a bend. One example is the ‘Emergency Electronic Brake Light’ that warns the driver about a heavy braking vehicle ahead. Thus, the driver can start slowing down earlier, especially if the braking vehicle is not in the line of sight, e.g., due to a truck in-between. simTD is one of the world’s first field operational tests of cooperative systems where a huge number of vehicles are being used to validate communication-based functions in everyday life conditions. The results of simTD will lay the basis for future deployment of cooperative systems.”
Elaborating on the goals of the project and its benefits Ress said, “The goal of simTD is to improve traffic safety as well as efficiency. Therefore, in simTD the functions that have been selected for validation address traffic management issues. Examples of such functions are the Foresighted Traffic Information, Road Weather Information and Green Light Optimal Speed Advisor functions. The simTD systems architecture incorporates the already existing traffic infrastructure. Additionally, the vehicles themselves become the sensors to gather up-to-date traffic information. This enables a traffic management centre to optimise control algorithms for the current traffic situation instantaneously.”
“SimTD is one of the world’s first field operational tests of cooperative systems where a huge number of vehicles are being used to validate communication-based functions in everyday life conditions.” – Christian Ress
Other technologies being tested in the simTD research project include the Obstacle Warning System, Traffic Sign Assistant and Public Traffic Management System. The Obstacle Warning system enables a driver to inform other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous obstacles on the road. The Traffic Sign Assistant remains in continuous contact with traffic management centres and provides the driver with up-to-date information on variable speed limits, temporary restrictions and diversions; as well as the details of current and approaching permanent regulations such as fixed speed limits and right-of-way. The Public Traffic Management System provides the exact traffic predictions based on comprehensive information. This includes identifying the likely traffic scenarios and their impact at the point in the journey where they are encountered rather than at the point of departure.
The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, has provided €30 million for the project. The project is further supported by infrastructure investment from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs.