Ford tests smart driver alert technology using in-car speakers and intuitive sounds
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Ford of Europe is testing intelligent driver alert technology to indicate the direction from which people and objects are approaching vehicles. Engineers explore in-car audio to clearly indicate the location of other road users or pedestrians.
Additionally, they’re testing the use of intuitive sounds — such as footsteps, bicycle bells, and the sound of passing cars — rather than a single tone.
Software developed by Ford uses sensor information to select the appropriate sound and play it through the speaker closest to the obstacle.
Engineers set up a real-life scenario on the test track, with a vehicle backing out of a parking space, an approaching pedestrian and a footstep alert. Test participants responded positively to the sound of footsteps, especially when this intuitive alert was played through a specific speaker.
Early testing revealed that drivers using directional audio alerts were much more accurate when it came to identifying potential hazards and their position.
In the future, engineers believe these results could be further improved by using 3D spatial sound similar to that used in cinemas and games to better enable drivers to identify the source of a hazard.
Oliver Kirstein, SYNC Software Engineer, Enterprise Connectivity, Ford of Europe, said: “Today’s warning tones are already telling drivers when they need to be careful and vigilant. Tomorrow’s technology could alert us to both the exact nature of the danger and where it is coming from.
Ford vehicles currently feature driver assistance technologies that use a suite of sensors to identify the presence of nearby pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. These technologies provide visual and audible alerts and, if necessary, apply emergency braking.