Published on September 18th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Ford Delivers Innovation to Millions through Smart, Safe and Sustainable Technology
Building on Henry Ford’s vision of opening the highways to all mankind, Ford recently demonstrated advanced technologies that are making its vehicles smarter, safer and more sustainable than ever before.
Ford showcased vehicles designed to improve road safety for all, help reduce accidents in our cities, go further on a tank of fuel and reduce harmful emissions – all positive steps forward for drivers and passengers across Asia Pacific.
Ford’s Innovations for Millions event showcased advanced technologies and affordable, class-leading safety features. The world’s first Rear Inflatable Seatbelt was on show, alongside Ford’s Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert, and Active City Stop. Innovative driver awareness tools like the Drink Driving Suit were demonstrated as well as cutting-edge features such as Active Park Assist. Ford’s lineup of high-tech EcoBoost engines, multi-material lightweight vehicle components and the latest generation of Ford’s in-car connectivity system, SYNC, were also on show.
The Innovation for Millions event featured demonstrations at Ford’s Australian Proving Ground, where engineers put Ford vehicles through their paces to ensure they meet the highest quality standards, as well as interactive events in the newly upgraded Ford immersive Virtual Environment (FiVE) lab in Melbourne.
The FiVE lab allows engineers and designers to collaborate in real time with other Ford teams worldwide. The new lab is big enough for a virtual walk-around of Ford’s largest vehicles, giving designers and engineers the chance to experience in-development cars much like a consumer would on the showroom floor.
Ford has virtual reality facilities in the United States, Germany, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Australia. These centers are part of Ford’s virtual engineering processes that utilize immersive environments and advanced computer-aided engineering to accurately model everything from the whole vehicle to minute details before building prototypes.
This virtual modeling impacts everything from aerodynamics to safety and aspects of the human-machine interface, and allows designers and engineers to optimise systems and components far earlier in the development process – resulting in prototype vehicles that are much closer to a finished product.
Ford is also focusing its technological innovations in areas consumers can fully experience themselves, offering smart technologies that help make urban driving more convenient.
On display at Innovation for Millions was Ford’s Enhanced Active Park Assist, which enables hands-free parking in both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. The system scans for suitable spots, and when a parking space is found it will take care of all the steering – requiring only shifting, acceleration and brake input from the driver.
Ford’s Active City Stop is designed to help urban drivers avoid low-speed collisions. Using a forward-facing infrared sensor, the system regularly monitors conditions and applies the brakes when the sensor detects that a crash is likely. The system operates at speeds below 30 km/h and reduces the risk of low-speed crashes into the rear of another vehicle. It will also help reduce the impact damage or potentially avoid the crash completely.
Going further, Enhanced Active City Stop is the next generation of this technology, which enables automatic emergency braking up to speeds of 50km/h and will be available to customers shortly. It’s all part of Ford’s work to deliver a more advanced braking system, which may enhance the safety of our cities and roads.
In addition to sensor-based technologies, Ford demonstrated the latest generation of Ford’s SYNC in-car connectivity system, which now benefits from an 8-inch color touchscreen. SYNC 2 boasts an array of updated and new features, with increased voice recognition capabilities that can help drivers stay connected while keeping their eyes on the road.
Feeling famished? Tell SYNC “I’m hungry”, and the system will search for nearby restaurants. This is just one of SYNC’s many customer-friendly features.
Other features on show at Innovation for Millions included Ford’s Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with Cross-Traffic Alert, which helps detect vehicles in a driver’s blind spots, giving them peace of mind on the road and when parking. BLIS® is a radar-based system that identifies when there are other vehicles in a driver’s blind spot and alerts them using indicator lights and audio alerts. Cross-Traffic Alert, working in tandem with BLIS®, scans 20 meters in each direction – the equivalent of seven parking spaces – in order to warn drivers of approaching vehicles when backing out of a parking spot. All these smart features aim to help increase driver awareness and convenience.
Ford also showcased its innovative “Drink Driving Suit”, a special tool Ford developed to demonstrate how much more difficult driving becomes after drinking alcohol.
Consisting of tunnel-vision glasses; ear muffs, wrist and ankle weights; and padding to elbows, neck, and knees; the “Drink Driving Suit” makes even simple tasks – such as walking a straight line – much harder. The suit is used in safety and educational programs supported by Ford around the world to help educate consumers about the importance of remaining fully aware while driving. The suit is a reminder of what can happen when visibility, hearing, coordination and balance are impaired.
Where sustainability meets performance
Today’s drivers want more economical vehicles that reduce their fuel bills and improve emissions, without any sacrifice to performance. Ford’s innovative EcoBoost engines are at the core of Ford’s sustainability plan to make affordable, fuel-efficient cars, trucks and SUVs that customers want and value. EcoBoost engines have better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions compared to larger displacement engines, without sacrificing performance or driving experience.
“In the first half of the year, EcoBoost sales have skyrocketed 120 per cent in Asia Pacific,” said Phil Fabien, global engine engineering, Ford Motor Company. “When our customers get into an EcoBoost vehicle, they’re saving money on fuel and making an impact on fuel consumption and emissions. The popularity of these vehicles shows how hard Ford is working to bring affordable and proven sustainable technologies to Asia Pacific.”
EcoBoost engines can be found in 10 vehicles in Asia Pacific, with plans to increase that number to 20 by mid-decade. Last month, Ford’s three-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost was awarded International Engine of the Year for an unprecedented third time.
Ford’s EcoBoost engines are only one aspect of its sustainability initiatives, with light-weighting and mixed-materials applications another core component of Ford’s Blueprint for Sustainability. This commitment is seen in the use of advanced high-strength steels, aluminum, magnesium, natural fibers and nano-based materials.
Shedding weight through lighter materials, better design and lightweight components allows Ford to deliver a package that’s equally high performance and fuel efficient. The door panels of the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus, for example, contain 84-92 per cent recycled wood fiber, which reduces the weight of the doors by 15 per cent.
Ford recently unveiled a prototype Lightweight Concept vehicle, which decreased the overall weight of a Ford Mondeo/Fusion by nearly 25 per cent in order to explore future weight-reduction solutions for high-volume production vehicles. Cutting-edge materials were incorporated into every aspect of the vehicle – including powertrain, chassis, body, battery and the interior – resulting in a new high-water mark for advanced materials in one vehicle.
“From virtual reality engineering and manufacturing to Ford’s driver assist features and sustainable technologies like EcoBoost, it’s a bold and exciting time for everyone at Ford and our customers, and we look forward to continuing to share what comes next,” Holland added. “At Innovation for Millions we not only demonstrated our latest, cutting-edge technologies but also set out a bold vision for the future.”