Ford demos "smart cars" in San Francisco

June 2, 2011 12:00 AM

Ford recently took to the streets of San Francisco to demonstrate new automotive technology that could become a standard feature on vehicles in about five years.

The American automaker is working on the safety feature with General Motors, Toyota, Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai, among others. The goal is to develop vehicles that can communicate their position to each other, in an effort to cut down on accidents.

These cars are outfitted with wireless sensors that transmit data to other cars in the vicinity - specifically, the updated GPS position of a vehicle. This means that the cars are able to sense when an accident is imminent or when a speeding car is approaching a crowded intersection.

Ford is looking to improve the technology to the point where the messages will be fast enough that the car's computer system will be able to make a snap decision - like automatically engaging the brakes to prevent a crash.

"Next year, we're doing a model deployment in a city where there will be thousands of equipped vehicles and trucks and buses all sending out these messages, and then the goal in 2013 is to start a regulation that will require this on all vehicles," Ford technical director Mike Shulman told PC Magazine. "Then, maybe consumer electronics companies would start designing products that could be retrofitted onto existing cars, because everyone sees the potential."

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