This fall, Ford will debut an all-new collision avoidance system with pedestrian detection in North America in the vehicles bearing its best-known nameplates, the Mustang muscle car and F-150 pickup truck.
Developed with the company’s European division, Ford’s latest active safety feature is designed to help drivers see pedestrians in the dark in a bid to eliminate a significant cause of road fatalities.
Ford says its research shows that in 2014, more than 20 percent of people killed in car crashes were pedestrians, and nearly half of those fatalities happened after dark. And in the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that 75 percent of car-related pedestrian deaths happened during dark hours.
That spurred the automaker to develop the first version of its pedestrian detection technology designed to work in the dark, starting with closed-track testing using dummies to simulate pedestrians wandering into the path of the vehicle. Then, they moved to the streets of Paris and Amsterdam for further testing on public roads.
Ford says the result is a system that uses a combination of a radar sensor in the front bumper and a camera in the windshield that scan the road ahead, comparing what they see with a database of “pedestrian shapes” to help the system suss out wayward pedestrians from the multitude of trees, lamp posts, and road signs that define a typical urban drive route.
If the pedestrian detection system senses a collision with a person is imminent, it will sound audible and visual warnings and then automatically hit the brakes if the driver doesn’t do so first—just like collision avoidance systems available now do to help prevent crashes with other cars.
The system’s North American debut will come this fall with the arrival of 2018 models of the F-150 and Mustang; in Europe, it will be rolled out in the next-generation Ford Fiesta subcompact recently revealed at the Geneva auto show.