Ford have unveiled a number of technological innovations that have been designed to make journeys safer, smarter and more comfortable by enhancing the driver’s senses.
The blue oval manufacturer has recently unveiled more than five new technologies that will hopefully at some point make it to the production models in the near future if they already haven’t made it to some vehicles. The first of many to be introduced is the new air filtration system which is in the all-new Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy.
The air quality sensor detects carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide levels outside of the car and as a result it shuts down incoming air automatically switching on the advanced filtration and air recirculation. According to Ford the new filter is apparently 50 per cent more effective than its predecessor at blocking ultra-fine particles that are more than one thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair. Pretty impressive.
During testing, Ford found that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and particle concentrations inside the car were equal to or lower than concentrations outside the car in rural locations.
The next technological advancement Ford have revealed comes in the form of the camera-based Advanced Front Lighting System. This system follows on from the company’s Adaptive Front Lighting System and Traffic Sign Recognition which are currently available technologies across the Ford range to bring a strong overall package improving the driver’s visibility in a number of conditions. This system is supported by GPS information that allows the system to predict, better illuminate and remember the road ahead and the surfaces on that particular route.
Spot Lighting simultaneously locates and tracks up to eight people and bigger animals including larger dogs. They are rather cleverly highlighted to the driver by a spot and a stripe on the road surface, illuminated by two LED lamps next to the fog lights. Inside the car, such hazards, which can be located at a range of up to 120 metres, are displayed on screen to the driver.
Another feature is Front Split View Camera which is already available on the all-new S-MAX and Galaxy. The technological feature enhances driver visibility with a 180-degree view of traffic approaching that would otherwise be obscured mainly at a T junction.
The split view camera is a first in its segment and can easily be activated at the push of a button where a 1-megapixel camera in the front grille then enables drivers to see a real-time 180-degree view to both the left and to the right on the vehicle’s 8-inch touchscreen. This is ideal tech particularly for driving situations at a blind junction or exiting a driveway as the camera enables drivers to easily spot approaching vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists. The camera is kept clear by a specially designed retractable jet‑washer that operates automatically when the windscreen wipers are activated, a nice touch for those like myself that like the little details.
The really innovative bit of tech that came from the recent reveal is RUTH the Robotised Unit for Tactility and Haptics. RUTH can be programmed to interact with many of a vehicle’s interior areas in the same fashion a human would.
RUTH is a giant arm with six joints that is involved from beginning to end to measure and determine the feeling of quality. The robot records and analyses attributes such as comfort and quality of materials through tests that involved premeasuring interior samples, poking the trims, turning the knobs, pushing the buttons and gauging seat and armrest comfort.
RUTH has been constantly developed and can also record, isolate, and analyse sounds even as minuscule as those made by switches in the car. Following the test on interior sound, Ford has now introduced Active Noise Control to the all-new Mondeo Vignale that features three microphones strategically placed throughout the cabin, monitoring engine noise in the interior which the system then directs opposing sound waves through the audio system to cancel out engine noise and improve cabin ambience.
These are just a few highlight of the many innovative features to come out of the Ford European Research & Innovation Centre in Germany, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary.
By James Fothergill