New technology with pedestrian detection prevents collisions
Pedestrian – car collisions can be devastating for all parties involved, but a new Ford technology, pre-collision assist can prevent accidents.
I spoke with Scott Lindstrom, the Vehicle Dynamics and Active Safety Manager at Ford Motor Company, about how this new safety feature works. Radar and a windshield-mounted camera scan the road ahead, and can detect a pedestrian. The car then provides a three pronged approach to avoiding a collision.
First, the driver gets an audible and visible alert – a warning beep and a red light on the dashboard. If the driver doesn’t react, the car engages in a pre charge, which means the brakes will react faster if the driver uses them.
Finally, if the driver doesn’t brake, the car automatically brakes. Depending on how fast the car was traveling, it can come to a complete stop. Lindstrom said that pre-collision assist will not stop the car completely at highway speeds, but it is designed to stop a car traveling under 50 mph. In NYC, where the Vision Zero initiative has led to a 25 mph speed limit on city streets, going into effect November 7, pre-collision assist would vastly improve pedestrian safety – though NYers need to stop darting out between cars in the middle of the streets.
Lindstrom said the technology is primarily designed for “walking pedestrians going 8 km per hour and below” so if someone sprints in front of a car, the system can’t react fast enough. But that is walking at a pretty fast clip – if you didn’t grow up using kilometers, that translates to 5 miles per hour.
The pre-collision assist does not detect bicyclists; the radar has to distinguish between pedestrians and roadside objects, and adding another form to distinguish would make detection more complicated.
Along with lane- keeping assist, blind spot warning, cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and active park assist, Ford is moving closer to autonomous cars that drive themselves.