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Ford is my co-pilot: Technology wrests control of car from driver as accident nears

Posting in Energy

Asleep at the wheel? Don't worry, that pedestrian will live to cross another street, thanks to Ford's Obstacle Avoidance system.

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So you're not quite ready for a driverless car, but you wouldn't mind taking a step in that direction?

Then Ford Motor Company's "Obstacle Avoidance" system could be for you.

The technology warns the driver of an imminent collision, and then wrests away control of the vehicle if the motorist fails to react, the BBC reports.

The company is testing the technology in Germany, outfitting a car with radar, ultrasonic sensors and a camera that together scan 650 feet ahead. It delivers a warning to an onboard screen and sounds a chime. If the person behind the wheel is in another world - perhaps he's busy manipulating a messy slice of pizza - then invisible hands and feet arrive, applying brakes and swerving toward a gap in order to avoid crashing.

It's a leap up from the vibrating wheel that Ford now offers in some of its cars as a warning device. Rather than settling for a mere caution, Ford is now echoing that old slogan of "leave the driving to us."

Not a bad back-up plan for road safety.

Still, my advice: Keep your hands on the wheel, not on the double cheese with pepperoni. And for goodness sake, put down that wretched cellphone.

All smiles, even as an accident approaches. They have Obstacle Avoidance. But will they still be grinning seconds from now?.....

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No! Not the passenger anyway. He's seen the whole thing, and suddenly his faith in Obstacle Avoidance is under duress.

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Watch this video to see whether Ford guided them to safety:

Video is from Ford via YouTube. Photos are screen grabs from the video.

More co-piloting on SmartPlanet:

— By on October 9, 2013, 8:13 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure