This week Ford demonstrated a new type of technology that could bring us one step closer to driverless cars: The Obstacle Avoidance system scans the road up to 200 meters (650 feet) ahead for pedestrians or other objects. If it sees one, it warns the driver through visual and audio cues. If the driver doesn’t react in time, the system will…by taking over the brakes and steering wheel to guide the car around the object. The system takes advantage of already-existing Ford technology, including its Active City Stop feature, which brakes the car if an object is in front of it. However, that feature is designed to work at slower speeds; Obstacle Avoidance is being tested at speeds of more than 60 kilometers per hour (38 mph).
What’s the Big Idea?
On the one hand, the idea of a car taking over from its driver, even in isolated circumstances, may be hard to get used to. On the other hand, Ford cites data from the German government stating that more than two-thirds of drivers involved in rear-end collisions did not attempt to steer out of the way. For that reason alone, a car with this kind of smarts could be a good thing…but the company says the system needs more testing before it’s available for market. No launch date has been announced.
Among other claims, a new paper in ACS Nano says that the carbon-based material has twice the tensile strength of graphene. It could be used in many different applications…once someone figures out how to create it in bulk.