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Ford brings other cars' brake lights onto your dashboard

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July 2, 2013

Ford's Electronic Brake Light system alerts drivers to other vehicles that are braking in ...

Ford's Electronic Brake Light system alerts drivers to other vehicles that are braking in front of them (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Ford Motor Company recently tested its experimental “Electronic Brake Light” system, as part of the 4-year Safe Intelligent Mobility - Testfield Germany (simTD) joint industry research project. The technology causes a dashboard light to illuminate in your car, when a vehicle in front of you applies its brakes.

It’s human nature to pay more attention to one’s immediate environment, than to the world that’s “out there.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t always serve us the best when driving – it’s the other traffic in that outside world that we have to be aware of. That’s where the Electronic Brake Light comes in.

When a car using the system applies its brakes, it sends out a wireless signal that is received by other vehicles following behind. Even if those cars are around the corner or blocked by other vehicles, they will still receive the signal. As a result, an indicator illuminates on their dashboard, alerting drivers to take action.

The technology, along with various other car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure systems, was tested last year near Frankfurt using 20 Ford S-MAX automobiles. According to Ford, the trials demonstrated that “the technology could enable drivers following behind to brake earlier and potentially mitigate or avoid a collision.”

Source: Ford Motor Company via IEEE Spectrum

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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10 Comments

The car behind you or on the other street at an intersection hits his brakes the light on the dash comes on. This is just stupid.

Slowburn
2nd July, 2013 @ 03:11 pm PDT

I am not sure how this works.

Here I am driving along the road, eyes on the road. Car in front of me brakes causing me to be briefly distracted by a light flashing on in my periphery vision, then next thing I know, I crashed into the car in front of me.

Nice! The very moment my attention is required on the road it is distracted by a stupid light on the dash.

Paul van Dinther
2nd July, 2013 @ 06:18 pm PDT

I agree with the above comments.

Looking at the dash/instruments is potentially dangerous. Why do combat aircraft (and my car) use Head-up displays?

So someone, somewhere touches the brake pedal - they could even be parked - and a light comes on? Not very clever.

Auto manufacturers are clearly leading us to self-driving autonomous vehicles and are adding odd bits of technology as it is available.

No thank you - I'll trust my own senses and judgment based on years of experience and knowing what stupid things some drivers are likely to do. I can anticipate - the car cannot.

RJB
3rd July, 2013 @ 01:36 am PDT

The LAST thing needed is another, inward-looking, visual demand! ...however, a small, customisable, sound alert - I think that would be a good design.

Jon Catling
3rd July, 2013 @ 02:21 am PDT

The majority of people won't have this capability so in the early days it will have limited value, probably more of a distraction on the odd occasion it lights up!

If it were to become widely adopted then it becomes more of a problem when following someone without the system - it's going to be like driving behind someone with no brake lights, or maybe just plain confusing.

Seems like another idea dreamed up by a boffin who cycles to work, then adopted by accountants who see it as a way of screwing more money out of us for features we didn't ask for, and don't want!

David993
3rd July, 2013 @ 03:40 am PDT

I am concerned about drivers relying on additional warnings rather than paying attention to there environment. A car with defective brake lights or a motorcycle slowing down with engine braking would both escape this system

Ron Stidmon
3rd July, 2013 @ 09:51 am PDT

I'm getting tired of Ford getting sole credit for something done by many organizations. Sounds like some former vice president claiming he invented the Internet! simTD involved many companies, including multiple auto manufacturers. "Electronic Brake Light" is only one of a number of safety applications based on vehicle-to-vehicle communications. You only get a warning if a leading car (in your lane) slams on the brakes beyond a preset threshold. This is especially useful when you are following a large vehicle/truck and your long distance view of the road ahead is obstructed. It helps to reduce rear-end collisions and does not necessarily use a visible warning, it can be audible.

This has also been done several years ago, along with several other compelling safety applications, in the U.S. by a group of automakers as part of continuing research under the U.S. Department of Transportation. There is even a current field trial, http://www.its.dot.gov/safety_pilot/, which involves close to 3000 vehicles demonstrating this technology. And the engineers that developed it drive the roads like you and me and designed it to minimize or prevent false alerts while getting the best performance possible.

Truthbeknown
3rd July, 2013 @ 01:21 pm PDT

Why not simply connect the system to servos and directional sensors and automate the whole system and and the humans out of the loop. We react a lot slower than machines and with the amount of blinking lights on the dash, we are slightly desensitised to lights warning or otherwise!

Saviour
3rd July, 2013 @ 02:50 pm PDT

I hate it when the guy infront of me is constantly feathering his break on and off, on and off, on and off. Like any little change in momentum infront of him requires hitting the break pedal, this would only extendend this nuisance to inside my car and infront of my face where it might be less easily ignoreable.

Arahant
4th July, 2013 @ 11:08 am PDT

It's amazing how much a company like Ford can miss (or ignore). We have a patent and an idea that is easier, less expensive, better in all ways than this one. It can be standard, option, after market...even if one car has it, it makes them safer. www.brakellc.us

Clarity
5th July, 2013 @ 10:29 am PDT
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