For drivers, blind junctions can be a nerve-wracking experience as they slowly inch forward into traffic and strain to see and hear oncoming vehicles.
Now Ford Motor Company is introducing a new camera technology that can see around corners even when drivers cannot – reducing stress and potentially helping avert collisions.
The innovative Front Split View Camera – now available as an option in the all-new Ford S-MAX and Galaxy – displays to the driver a 180-degree view from the front of the car, using a video camera in the grille. At a blind junction or exiting a driveway, the camera enables drivers to easily spot approaching vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists.
“We have all been there and it’s not just blind junctions that can be stressful, sometimes an overhanging tree, or bushes can be the problem,” said Ronny Hause, engineer, Driver Assistance Electronic Systems, Ford of Europe, whose team worked closely on the project with their U.S. counterparts. “For some, simply driving off their own driveways is a challenge. Much like rear-view cameras, Front Split View Camera is one of those technologies that people will soon wonder how they managed without.”
The first-in-segment technology is activated at the push of a button. A 1-megapixel camera in the front grille enables drivers to see a real-time 180-degree view – both left and right – on the vehicle’s 8-inch colour touchscreen. Drivers can track road-users that approach on either side and pass in front of the vehicle. The camera, just 33 millimetres wide, is kept clear by a specially designed retractable jet-washer that operates automatically when the windscreen wipers are activated.
Data recorded by the European Road Safety Observatory SafetyNet project indicated that approximately 19 per cent of drivers involved in accidents at junctions experienced obstructions to view. The U.K. Department of Transport said that in 2013, vision affected by external factors contributed to 11 per cent of all road accidents.
“From sunrise to sunset we tested the Front Split View Camera on all kinds of roads, congested urban streets and areas with a lot of cyclists and pedestrians,” Hause said. “Tackling tunnels, narrow alleys and garages in all light conditions also meant we could ensure the technology worked well even when sunlight was shining directly into the camera.”
Ford models including the all-new S-MAX and Galaxy already offer Rear View Camera technology that helps drivers manoeuvre the vehicle when in reverse; and Cross Traffic Alert system, which uses rear-mounted sensors to warn drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them. Further new driver assistance technologies offered for the all-new S-MAX and Galaxy include:
- Intelligent Speed Limiter, which when activated scans traffic signs and adjusts the throttle to help drivers stay within legal speed limits and avoid fines
- Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, which will reduce the severity of some frontal collisions involving vehicles and pedestrians, or help drivers avoid some impacts altogether
- Glare-Free Highbeam technology for the adaptive LED headlamps, which detects vehicles ahead and fades out light that could dazzle oncoming drivers, while retaining maximum illumination for other areas
“Pulling out at a blind junction can be a tricky manoeuvre for new and experienced drivers alike. The best approach has traditionally been to simply lean forward to get the best view whilst creeping forwards with the windows wound down to listen for approaching vehicles, but cyclists are a particular risk as they can’t be heard,” said Keith Freeman, an AA Quality Training Manager in the U.K. who also trains young drivers as part of the Ford Driving Skills For Life programme. “This technology will certainly make emerging from anywhere with a restricted view so much safer and the experience less nerve-wracking for those behind the wheel.”
The all-new S-MAX and Galaxy are available to order now. Front Split View Camera also will be offered for the all-new Ford Edge upscale SUV, available in Europe later this year.