Edge Concept highlights Ford autonomous-driving technologies

  • 02-Dec-2013 07:01 EST

Ford says the Edge Concept hints at the technology, styling, and premium interior craftsmanship that will define the company’s coming utility-vehicle offerings. (Patrick Ponticel)

The Edge Concept that Ford introduced at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show reveals the automaker’s vision not only for what the next production version of the crossover may look like, but also what semi- and, later, full-autonomous driving may look like.

Among the autonomous technologies showcased in the Edge is self-parking. A prototype technology at the moment, Fully Assisted Parking Aid uses ultrasonic sensors to enable the car to, at a speed up to 30 km/h (19 mph), detect a perpendicular parking space. Then, upon activation of the system by the driver, the vehicle pulls itself into the spot completely on its own. The driver can activate the system from inside the vehicle or, in tight spots where it would be difficult for he or she to get out of the car upon parking, the driver can exit the car and then activate the system via remote control.

The same sensing, steering, braking, computational, and engine functions are employed for the car to get itself out of a parking space as well.

Already offered today on 12 Ford models is a different system, Active Park Assist, which autonomously guides the vehicle into a parallel parking space. This is considered a semi-autonomous technology, because the driver controls the acceleration and brake pedals. Fully Assisted Parking Aid builds on this technology.

Obstacle Avoidance is another technology highlighted in the Edge. Sensors detect slow-moving or stationary objects in the same lane ahead. If the car deems the driver inadequately responsive to the situation, it will alert him or her and, if necessary, automatically apply steering and braking to avoid a collision.

The third technology highlighted in the Edge is Adaptive Steering. It builds on Ford’s electric power-assisted steering system to make steering at low speeds easier, and steering in all conditions feel more engaging. Specifically, it controls the relationship between how much the driver turns the steering wheel and how much the road wheels turn. At low speed, the road wheels turn more for a given movement of the steering wheel.

The Edge Concept also features technologies already offered on certain existing Ford models, including Lane-Keeping System, which relies on a camera that “sees” lane markings. The system can determine whether the vehicle is drifting out of its lane and then alert the driver by vibrating the steering wheel. If the driver does not respond, the car self-steers itself back toward the center of the lane.

Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support uses radar to detect moving vehicles immediately ahead, and can modify cruising speed if necessary.

Blind Spot Information System uses radar sensors in the rear corners to monitor the spaces next to and just behind the vehicle. They trigger a warning light in the mirror when there is another vehicle in the driver’s blind spot.

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