February 27, 2004

Ford studies “intelligent” cars and highways

Minneapolis, Minnesota – Ford and the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced a partnership to construct an intelligent transportation system where cars will talk to the highway, and to each other, to keep passengers out of traffic jams and bad weather.

The Minnesota fleet will join similar fleets under construction in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, and on the Ford campus in Dearborn, Michigan.

During the first phase of the program in Minnesota, state police cars, ambulances and state-owned cars and trucks will be outfitted with sensing devices that will collect traffic-related data from each vehicle, including vehicle speed, location and heading.

Weather-related data will also be obtained, including windshield wiper operation, lights on or off, outside temperature and traction control system status.

Vehicle and roadway information will then be transmitted wirelessly to the state Condition Acquisition Reporting System (CARS). The data will be analyzed and then important information derived from it will eventually be available on highway message signs, 511 telephone services, and related websites. This information may also be used to deploy emergency assistance as well as road and maintenance crews.

“What has been lacking in the past is a holistic integration of vehicles with roadway infrastructure,” said Dr. Charles Wu, director, Manufacturing and Vehicle Design, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “Through the combination of intelligent vehicle technology and ITS in the United States, we hope this program, called Vehicles-as-Sensors, will contribute to the development of the next generation in transportation and driver information systems.”

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