Ford has being showing off the new Obstacle Avoidance system at a facility in Lommel, Belgium. The equipment, once fitted to a car, can take control of the steering wheel when it detects the risk of a collision.

The car manufacturer explained that the system would warn the driver of danger first and then if the driver did not react it would take over the controls.

Ford Obstacle Avoidance

It is able to scan up to 200m ahead using three radars, a number of ultrasonic sensors and a camera, which are all installed into the car. A built-in display shows a warning sign and sounds a chime if it detects the possibilty of an accident. If necessary it then applies the brakes and scans for a gap in the road so that it can steer the car away from danger.

“You’re driving down the road and a pedestrian or something comes out from either side of your vehicle from your peripheral vision where you don’t have a good look at it,” said Barb Samardzich, vice-president of product development at Ford’s European division.

“Obstacle Avoidance can sense that the pedestrian or that object is coming across the front of your vehicle. If it doesn’t sense you responding accordingly in your vehicle by braking or manoeuvring, it will take over.”

Ford is not the only manufacturer working on this project, BMW, Fiat, Daimler, Volvo and Volkswagen are also aiming to reduce the number of severe collisions. The companies will share data resulting from tests so that they can develop their own systems.

Ford explains that fewer than on-third of all drivers involved in rear-end collisions had attempted to steer in a way to avoid the accident. As the result it shouldn’t be too difficult to convince motorists that this is a necessary and life-saving innovation.

“The logic behind the technology is impeccable – anything that can avoid a potentially dangerous situation that can cause injury or death sounds like a good piece of equipment,” said Tim Urquhart, senior analyst at consultants IHS Automotive.

“Obviously it will come at a price. But there will be less resistance to a piece of technology like this than there will be to the concept of totally driverless cars.

“But autonomous vehicles are already being tested by Google, Daimler and others, and taking steering control in an emergency situation is obviously a pretty significant step along the road.”

[Image via gmotors]