Ford trials ‘stop-free’ driving in Milton Keynes
Imagine a world where negotiating busy junctions does not require waiting at a red light, and the only time to stop your car is when you arrive at your destination.
Ford is trialling a new way in which connected car technology could set us on that journey – a method that takes its lead from how humans negotiate their way through busy crowds, by slowing down or speeding up to avoid collisions, without coming to a standstill.
Ford has been testing Intersection Priority Management on the streets of Milton Keynes, as part of the government-funded UK Autodrive programme. The new technology aims to keep drivers driving and bring an end to unnecessary stops at junctions, both easing traffic flow and increasing safety and efficiency.
Automating how vehicles negotiate junctions with each other in this way that may mean that soon vehicles could pass through safely and efficiently without the need for traffic lights or road signs.
Christian Ress, supervisor at Driver Assist Technologies, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, said: “We know that intersections and traffic lights can be a real bugbear for many drivers. With the connected car technology we have been demonstrating, we envisage a world where vehicles are more aware of each other and their environment, enabling intelligent cooperation and collaboration on the roads – and around junctions.”
IPM uses vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, communications to coordinate with other vehicles in the vicinity and suggests optimum speeds that will allow cars to safely pass by each other at intersections without coming to a halt.
For the trial, test cars were equipped with V2V communication systems that broadcast the vehicles’ location, direction of travel and speed. The onboard IPM systems identify an upcoming junction and the trajectory of other vehicles approaching it. It then suggests an optimum speed for each vehicle as they approach the junction that will allow them pass through safely.
The vehicles in the trial had people behind the wheel, but it is envisaged that autonomous vehicles could also benefit from the technology.
IPM builds upon other connected-car technologies developed by Ford and its project partners as part of UK Autodrive, a £20m programme taking self-driving and connected car technologies from the test track to the streets.
Among the technologies showcased during the 2-year programme – which came to an end last week – are Intersection Collision Warning, which alerts drivers of potential accidents when approaching an intersection, and Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory, which helps cars to synchronise with nearby traffic lights to help them avoid getting stuck on red.
Other features demonstrated include Collaborative Parking – which builds a crowd-sourced map of a car park’s available spaces – and Emergency Vehicle Warning, where drivers are advised of the location and distance of an approaching emergency vehicle.