Ford tests high-tech 'brake light' that warns other drivers even from afar

June 26, 2013

Ford Motor Company participated in a special test of a high-tech early warning "brake light" that can warn drivers following behind even if they are around a bend or behind other traffic.

The technology is one of 20 potential future systems Ford tested as part of Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany (simTD), a four-year joint industry research project.

In emergency braking situations, the experimental "Electronic Brake Light" transmits a to illuminate a dashboard light in cars following behind. The study found the technology could enable drivers following behind to brake earlier and potentially mitigate or avoid a collision.

The closing presentation for the simTD project today took place in Frankfurt, Germany, with a demonstration of technologies including those tested and developed by Ford, and a summary of the findings from the research project's field tests, which concluded in December 2012.

The simTD field tests took place in the Frankfurt region and involved 500 test drivers in 120 vehicles – including 20 Ford S-MAX models. Testers logged more than 41,000 hours and 1.6 million kilometers on and an enclosed test track.

"Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications represent one of the next major advancements in vehicle safety," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation. "Ford is committed to further real-world testing here and around the world with the goal of implementation in the foreseeable future."

Ford used specially-equipped Ford S-MAX models to help test the potential of car-to-car and car-to-; also testing Obstacle Warning system, which alerts to the presence, position and type of potentially hazardous objects in the road, and Traffic Sign Assistant, that remains in contact with traffic management centres for up-to-date information.

Engineers from Ford's European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany, led the Electronic Brake Light development, testing and data analysis.

Further technologies tested for simTD included:

  • Public Traffic Management, which provides exact traffic prognosis based on comprehensive information; this includes identifying likely traffic scenarios and their impact at the point in the journey when they are encountered rather than at the point of departure
  • In-car Internet Access, which, for example enables the driver to receive information about free parking spaces or check traffic hotspots by receiving up-to-date pictures from cameras.

As a global leader in researching car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications, Ford is engaged in the European Commission-supported field operational tests DRIVE C2X, and in the U.S. contributing to Safety Pilot Model Deployment, a field test of more than 2,800 vehicles in cooperation with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Collating results from these programmes supports Ford's objective of harmonising standards for messaging and hardware globally that would enable the delivery of new technologies faster, more efficiently, and more economically.

Explore further: Intelligent cars alert each other to hazards

More information: Further information on simTD can be found at

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