Wireless Technology Advances Crash Avoidance

ETRAVERSE CITY, MI Researchers at Ford Motor Co. are developing crashavoidance systems that advance vehicle safety by using wireless vehicle-tovehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. The goal of such communications is to detect and respond to imminent collisions. This research into "active-safety" applications includes Ford's vehicle-toinfrastructure Smart Intersection project.

The Automatic Braking Intersection Collision Avoidance System (ABICAS), which is under development, uses radio-based wireless sensors, Global Positioning Satellite (GPS), and navigation information to detect the relative location of other radio-equipped test vehicles. The system is being designed to warn drivers of imminent side-impact collisions. If necessary, it will automatically activate the brakes to avoid or minimize the damage caused by such collisions.

ABICAS is enabled by wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communications. It works in conjunction with radar- and camera-based driver-assist features, such as adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support. Although radar and camera sensors can detect other vehicles both ahead and behind a vehicle, radio-based wireless sensors give vehicles a 360-deg. view. Information from these various sensors is combined with engineering algorithms to ensure the validity of an imminent collision before activating the vehicle's brakesall of which happens in a split second.

When a vehicle is equipped with a dedicated short-range wireless radio, it can communicate with similarly equipped vehicles and use the shared information in concert with its safety systems. Ford's vehicle-to-vehicle research builds on knowledge that the firm gained from its Smart Intersection project, which focuses on wireless communications between vehicles and intersection infrastructure (see figure). The Smart Intersection project communicates with test vehicles to warn drivers of potential collisions, such as when a vehicle is about to go through a red light.

In the Smart Intersection project, the intersection is outfitted with technology that monitors traffic-signal status, GPS data, and digital maps to assess potential hazards. It then transmits warning information to other specially equipped vehicles. Once the information is received by the vehicle, the collision-avoidance system can determine whether the car can safely cross the intersection or if it needs to stop before entering the intersection. If the system determines the need to stop and senses that the driver is not decelerating quickly enough, it issues visual and audible warnings to the driver.

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