Road safety project simTD connects cars, infrastructure. Hopes to save lives, time

Live traffic info likely prevents many a clenched fist meeting steering wheel every single day. A new trial scheme in Frankfurt Germany, however, could prevent even more unnecessary road-rage. The project involves 120 vehicles from a range of manufacturers, loaded with "car-to-x" technology. Cars will communicate with each other, and with general infrastructure, in an attempt to make roads safe and less congested. As well as basic location data, other tools include a brake light that advises the car behind it once activated, and an obstacle warning system to share information on the presence and location of hazards -- as well as what those blockages are. The project is a collaboration between Universities, research institutes, telecom providers -- and of course -- the auto industry. We're keen to see how the trial turns out. Even if it's just to lower our next taxi fare.

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Ford Begins Real-World Testing of Future Car-to-Car and Car-to-Infrastructure Communication Technologies

Ford Motor Company today begins real-world testing of future technologies as part of a research programme aimed at advancing car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication to European roads.

"Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications represent the next major advancements in vehicle safety," said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation. "Ford is committed to further real-world testing here and around the world with the goal of implementation in the foreseeable future.

Ford is contributing 20 specially equipped S-MAX models to a 120 vehicle fleet being used to test 20 experimental driver assistance technologies as part of the four-year research project "Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany" or simTD. The project's goal is to better understand the potential for car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure to improve traffic safety and personal mobility.

Experts believe using mobile communications technology to integrate vehicles with each other and with transport infrastructure could make roads safer and reduce congestion. Engineers from Ford's European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany and simTD research project partners so far have tested the developmental technologies in a controlled environment. The technologies will now be tested on public roads in and around Frankfurt in real-world driving conditions.

Technologies being tested as part of the simTD research project include:

Electronic Brake Light, which delivers a message from the lead vehicle to a following vehicle if an emergency braking procedure is carried out, even if the incident occurs out-of-sight, for example around a bend in the road; Ford is leading the development and integration of this application

Obstacle Warning system, which enables a vehicle to inform other road users of the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous obstacles on the road

Traffic Sign Assistant, which remains in continuous contact with traffic management centres to access up-to-date information on variable speed limits, temporary restrictions and diversions; as well as providing details of current and approaching permanent regulations, such as fixed speed limits and right of way
Public Traffic Management, which provides exact traffic prognosis based on comprehensive information; this includes identifying likely traffic scenarios and their impact at the point in the journey when they are encountered rather than at the point of departure

In-car Internet Access, which, for example, can enable the driver to reserve and pay for parking en-route

"The vehicles will cover thousands of kilometres in test drives and evaluations to gather valuable research data from every-day driving scenarios," said Christian Ress, technical expert, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.

Ford is a global leader in researching car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications. In 2004 it engaged in a partnership with Minnesota Department of Transportation, U.S., to equip 100 state vehicles with sensors to collect traffic-related data including vehicle speed, location, heading and even localised weather conditions, with the aim of developing the next generation of transportation and driver information systems.

Ford was also the first vehicle manufacturer in the U.S. to demonstrate intelligent vehicle communication technologies to the public, with a multi-city tour that began in 2010.

The company continues its involvement in such testing programmes in Europe, the U.S. and around the world, with the objective of harmonising global standards for messaging and hardware. Collating results from these programmes will ultimately enable Ford to deliver new technologies to global customers with greater speed, efficiency, and with minimal cost.

The increasing use of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure technology is part of Ford's "Blueprint for Mobility," which was outlined by Executive Chairman Bill Ford during his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. The "Blueprint for Mobility" details the company's early thinking on how to tackle the issues of mobility in an increasingly crowded and urbanized planet between now and 2025.

The funding for the simTD project is approximately €53 million, of which €30 million of direct project promotional support has been provided by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The project is further supported by infrastructure investment from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs as well as funding from the state of Hessen. The consortium involves representatives from all major interest groups, including Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Opel, Volkswagen, Bosch, Continental, Deutsche Telekom, regional infrastructure operators and German Research Institutions (Technische Universität München und Berlin, Universität Würzburg, Fraunhofer).

Further information on simTD can be found at