The march toward a future with robotic cars continues today as Ford begins rolling out a test fleet of vehicles equipped with car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication technologies.
Taking place in Aachen, Germany, the testing includes 20 Ford S-Max sport activity vehicles (SAVs) outfitted with technologies that will allow them to communicate with each other and the local transportation infrastructure about, among other things, traffic and dangerous driving conditions.
The test fleet is part of a four-year study called Safe Intelligent Mobility — Testfield Germany, or simTD. The ultimate goal of the study, Ford says, is to create ways to help prevent traffic and improve driver safety. So far, the system has been tested in a controlled environment. But now, simTD will begin testing under real-world driving conditions.
So what kind of technology will this fleet of vehicles be using? According to Ford, the cars will include an electronic brake light that will send messages from a lead vehicle in a convoy to vehicles following it when an emergency braking procedure is performed. Ford says the braking messages will even be sent if the emergency braking procedure is performed with the lead car out of sight of the cars following it.
The Obstacle Warning system will allow certain vehicles to warn other cars of potentially dangerous objects in the roadway, while the Traffic Sign Assistant will continuously remain in communication with a traffic data center to send and receive information on temporary speed limits and traffic restrictions, as well as permanent limits and regulations.
A Public Traffic Management feature will provide users with up-to-date traffic information including likely traffic scenarios and their effect on your commute. To top it all off, Ford says the simTD will also include in-car Internet access that drivers can use to do things such as reserve and pay for parking before they reach their destinations.