Driving in rural areas can be tricky when unmarked road edges become ragged and give way to open land, muddy ditches and sheer drops. The challenge becomes even greater when driving on such roads at night, especially in unlit areas.
Most road fatalities in Europe occur on rural roads and – unlike in urban areas – car occupants make up the biggest share of those fatalities. In response Ford has introduced Road Edge Detection technology to help make rural driving easier.
Designed for use on rural roads at speeds of 45-70mph, Road Edge Detection uses a camera located below the rearview mirror to monitor road edges 50m in front of the vehicle and 7m to the side. Where a paved road becomes a soft verge, gravel hard shoulder or grass, the system provides gentle steering support as required to prevent the vehicle from drifting off the carriageway.
The system features an advanced algorithm, which has been added to Ford’s existing Lane-Keeping Aid, that determines when there are clear structural changes from the road to the area beside the road. The system can also provide steering support on marked roads when the lane marking is obscured or hidden by snow, leaves or rain. However, Ford warns that paved ditches or concrete-covered drops may not be detected.
If the system detects that the vehicle is still too close to the road edge following initial steering support, the system vibrates the steering wheel, to prompt the driver to steer. At night, the system uses the illumination from the headlights and functions as effectively as during the day, according to Ford.
Road Edge Detection is standard on the Focus, Kuga and Puma models as part of Lane-Keeping Aid, and will be part of the expanding driver assistance technologies being rolled out to new Ford vehicles.
Rüdiger Kieneke, a Ford Driver Assistance and Safety Electronics engineer said, “Rural roads can be every bit as challenging for drivers as urban streets – especially for those who may be unfamiliar with their route. Road Edge Detection helps alleviate one concern to make journeys more comfortable and easier.”