New models of Ford cars will be equipped with technology that will allow drivers to learn about the presence of a pedestrian in dangerous proximity, even if it is out of sight.
Ford reports that the technology is based on the use of Bluetooth Low Energy signals, which have become widely used in modern devices due to low energy consumption and sufficient range. The mobile application that Ford is currently working on will transmit information on the location of their owners, pedestrians or cyclists, to the company's vehicles equipped with the SYNC on-board system.
It is not yet clear what requirements the Ford application will impose on smartphones and how it will use the data it receives. In addition, there are questions about the accuracy of positioning on BLE signals, which is not very high at long distances, as discussed in a 2019 study by the Institute of Physics.
Researchers have found that different BLE lighthouse positioning systems show similar test results and their average accuracy varies between 0.79 and 2.28 metres; however, at a distance of 10 metres, the accuracy of the location is so low that, in the worst case, the accuracy of the BLE beacon can reach 7.81 metres; thus, the BLE technology will not provide too much space to stop a moving vehicle.
According to the British insurance company RAC, a vehicle travelling from 65 km/h needs a 14-metre stopping distance, which means that Ford's bet on BLE technology to detect pedestrians and cyclists may not be the best technical choice.
Ford claims that SYNC-supported vehicles are already equipped with the equipment necessary to implement this technology, so they will not be required to upgrade them. Jim Buchkowski, Executive Director of Ford Research and Forward-looking Development, stated that the new BLE technology would work in tandem with the existing Co-Pilot360 driver's help technology, which detects pedestrians, cyclists and other hazards, and could stop the car itself if necessary. ", he said.
Ford has a number of project partners, including Ohio State University and T-Mobile, the last of which is working with Ford to build a 5G-based system similar to the BLE-based pedestrian warning system.
In the long run, Ford intends to expand the technology being developed to detect road construction areas and workers as well as other obstacles on the road that may pose a threat to the vehicle.
The company plans to demonstrate its development of both the BLE and the 5G versions of the new technology at the World Congress of the American Society of Intelligent Transport in Los Angeles this week.