Today, if you are on a drive with friends and you come across an accident ahead which is causing a blockage, you can use your phone to call your friends and notify them. That’s human-to-human connectivity and in future, there will also be car-to-car connectivity. A few manufacturers and their technology partners are already testing such systems where cars can ‘talk’ to each other and one of them is Ford, with Vodafone.
The two companies are now testing connected vehicle technology that could alert drivers to an accident ahead moments after it has happened. Furthermore, the system can provide early warning that emergency vehicles are approaching – and which side of the road they should move towards to avoid being an obstruction. Perhaps, further in the future, with autonomous cars, the action might be done by the car itself without the driver having to manage the manoeuvring.
The consequences of blocking the progress of emergency vehicles – and delaying their arrival at the scene of an accident – could prove fatal. In fact, experts believe that survival rates for road accident victims can be improved by as much as 40% if they receive treatment just four minutes more quickly. The system is designed to create an ‘emergency corridor’ along which fire engines, ambulances and police vehicles can reach their destinations more quickly.
“Connected and automated driving are key technologies of the future. Ford has a long history of developing and testing vehicle to traffic infrastructure and vehicle to vehicle communications that can contribute to greater road safety and efficiency across the world. Together with Vodafone and in cooperation with the other companies involved, we will gain decisive insights on the Düsseldorf testing grounds to further advance the networking of vehicles,” said Gunnar Herrmann, CEO, Ford of Germany.
Already, in the event of an accident, ‘eCall’ functionality, which is available on a new Ford model in Europe, can automatically call emergency services, and enables occupants to do so manually by pushing an SOS button inside the car. Anticipating a future where all vehicles communicate with each other via mobilephone networks and embedded modems, Ford and Vodafone are now exploring how ‘eCall Plus’ might also inform other drivers that there is an accident ahead, across a range of up to 500 metres. Attending emergency vehicles would also issue the warning, using in-car displays to show the correct ‘emergency corridor’ formation. On two-lane roads, ‘emergency corridors’ are created in between the two lanes by drivers pulling over to either side.
The new technology complements Emergency Vehicle Warning technology that Ford is also testing. This sends a signal from the ambulance, fire engine or police car directly to nearby drivers, so that they will know the exact location of the vehicle and how far away it is. This can be especially useful in urban areas (for example at a cross-junction) where it might be difficult for drivers to immediately know where the siren is coming from.
“The digital revolution is bringing new forms of mobility which may help save lives on our roads,” said Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO, Vodafone Germany. “When cars communicate with each other, our rescue teams get a clear path forwards, so they can provide the right help at the right time, in situations when every second counts.”