Ford is testing a new technology in Europe, this time showing how connectivity can help improve city traffic.
Called “geofencing,” or virtual area fencing, it allows cars to automatically slow down when entering restricted areas, such as near schools, hospitals or shopping malls.
“Geofencing allows speed to be reduced when necessary to improve safety and create a more pleasant environment,” said Michael Huynh, manager of urban solutions for Ford Europe, in a statement.
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The creation of 30 km/h zones is considered one of the main measures to reduce the risk to pedestrians in urban areas, as drivers have more reaction time and the impact speed is lower. In Europe, around 30% of traffic deaths are pedestrians and cyclists.
So driver-assistance technologies like adaptive cruise control help keep drivers from exceeding speed limits, but geo-referenced speed control is considered more flexible and effective, says Ford.
In tests conducted in Cologne, Germany, two Ford E-Transit electric vehicles are used to analyze the effects of speed limits on improving traffic and reducing accidents. The 12-month trial covers all 30 km/h zones in the city centre, and selected 50 km/h and 30 km/h zones elsewhere.
How does it work?
Ford’s technology uses GPS tracking and data sharing to slow the vehicle down as it enters a reference zone. The driver is notified of the new limit by a flashing light on the dashboard and can turn off the system at any time.
In the future, drivers will be able to define their geofencing zones at a speed of up to 20 km / h, including in warehouses and private areas, or even with force, taking into account local risks, road works and time of day.
Ford is also using geofencing technology to improve air quality in cities by programming its hybrid models to automatically run in electric mode when entering polluted areas.
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