Ford's futuristic shopping cart can brake on its own

A sensor detects objects like parked cars to prevent runaway collisions.

Ford has been applying its automotive expertise to create some amusing, impractical devices like a conveyor-belt bed and noise-cancelling doghouse, because why the heck not? Now, the automaker has come up with another doozy. It's a self-braking shopping cart based on its Pre-Collision Assist technology that's designed to prevent any supermarket mayhem. If your kids use it as a skateboard or if it runs away in the parking lot, a sensor can detect objects in the way and bring it to a smooth stop.

Ford is blaming your kids for shopping cart mishaps, which seems a bit unfair. "Children love to copy adults -- when they push a trolley, to their minds, it's like they are behind the wheels of a car -- with long, wide supermarket aisles as their racetrack," the company wrote. That's fair enough, but adults are just as likely to let a loaded cart roll away into a parked F-150 while they fumble with the keys.

The video (above) shows the system working to perfection, smoothly braking to prevent accidents with stacked fruit, hapless shoppers and a Mustang. Suffice to say, this device isn't coming to a grocery store near you, considering the frequency with which shopping carts (trolleys in the UK) are purloined. Still, it's a fun prototype and a canny piece of marketing from Ford.