Find driving at night fairly stressful?
According to Ford, you're not alone. Many people across Europe are scared of driving on the roads at night (81 per cent of 5,030 drivers surveyed) with common fears being hitting someone or something while driving.
So, the car firm is introducing technology designed to detect pedestrians at night and automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn't respond to initial warnings.
“We know some drivers find hitting the road at night a stressful experience," said Gregor Allexi, active safety engineer at Ford of Europe. "Especially driving in towns and cities, pedestrians – sometimes distracted by mobiles – can without warning step into the road, leaving even alert drivers very little time to avoid an accident. Day and night, Pedestrian Detection is designed to help identify people already in – or about to step into – the road ahead.”
The car giant had already developed Pedestrian Detection for daytime use, but it's now been given a night vision upgrade to work after dark too.
Its system uses a windscreen camera and a bumper-mounted radar sensor, along with a database of "pedestrian shapes" to help it filter out trees and road signs to focus on people. The camera produces a live video feed, constantly on the lookout for humans. If one is detected, the driver is warned with sounds and visual alerts and if it doesn't brake, the car does it for them.
To test it out, the development team threw life-sized dummies onto the path of vehicles on closed tracks and on public roads in Paris and Amsterdam.
The tech isn't just to allay fears of nervous drivers of course. Ford pointed out there were 408 pedestrian fatalities in the UK in 2015, accounting for 24 per cent of road fatalities for the year. And of those, 48 per cent occurred between 6pm and 6am.
The advanced technology will be introduced on the next generation Fiesta.