Ford Tech to Avoid Roadside Ditches

There maybe many of us who have experience of Ray LaMontagne’s Jolene lyrics ‘I found myself face down in a ditch…’

Well, now Ford says it has new technology to make that embarrassing scenario a whole lot less likely. The automaker says the ever present threat of leaving the road on challenging rural environments is a real one especially on tarmac sullied with mud from farm tractor wheels and in unlit country lanes.

In fact, most road fatalities in Europe occur on rural roads and, unlike in urban areas, car occupants make up the biggest share of those fatalities. So, Ford claims its new Road Edge Detection technology scans the road ahead and can steer the vehicle back on track when needed. It’s designed to work at speeds of 45-70mph and uses a camera located below the rearview mirror to monitor road edges 50 meters (165-feet) in front of the vehicle and seven meters (23-feet) to the side of the vehicle.

Where a paved road becomes a soft verge, gravel hard shoulder or grass, the system effectively takes over the steering to prevent the vehicle from drifting off the carriageway.

The system features an algorithm, added to the automaker’s existing Lane-Keeping Aid, that determines when there are clear structural changes from the road to the area beside the road. It can also provide steering support on marked roads when the lane marking is obscured or hidden by snow, leaves or rain.

If the driver is still close to the edge following initial steering support, the system vibrates the steering wheel, to prompt the driver to steer. At night, the system uses the illumination from the headlights to function both night and day.

It’s now a standard feature on models including the Focus, Kuga and Puma, and will be part of the expanding driver assistance technologies being rolled out to all new Ford vehicles.

Rüdiger Kieneke, Ford driver assistance and safety electronics engineer, said: “Rural roads can be every bit as challenging for drivers as urban streets – especially for those who may be unfamiliar with their route. Road Edge Detection helps alleviate one concern to make journeys more comfortable and easier.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *