Ford Loads 2010 Models with Safety, IT Bells and Whistles

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Ford Loads 2010 Models with Safety, IT Bells and Whistles

by Chris Preimesberger

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Ford's Director of Electrical Engineering and Electronics Jim Buczkowski, standing in front of Ford's top-of-the-line 2010 Taurus, offers an overview of his company's new standard and optional IT-related features for media members and analysts on Sept. 10 in San Francisco. "People are expecting IT to make their lives better. They're already getting it in their handheld devices, their work computers, their music players—why shouldn't they also get it in their personal vehicles?" he asked.(Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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Steve Kozak, Ford's chief safety engineer, shows the detail on the front on-board, 76 Gigahertz radar system (third-generation radar, 10 years in development, made by Delphi) that is now optional but will eventually become standard on all Ford vehicles. The company is forging ahead with several active crash-avoidance technologies. "These are the game-changers that will change the business of safety. This is the exact same technology used on an F-22 fighter jet," Kozak said.The Forward Sensing System uses four hidden sensors mounted in the front fascia (the exterior paneling) and audible beeps to help drivers determine how close they are to objects in front of their vehicle while parking. It can detect objects up to 1,500 feet away, plus objects at certain heights, such as parking blocks, that are out of the driver's view.(Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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Kozak shows the rear radar device. Two of these are installed in the rear, one on either side of the vehicle, mounted underneath the side paneling. They can perceive a hazard 150 feet away and alert the driver. The BLIS (blind spot information system) alerts the driver to obstacles that may be in the rear-view mirror blind spot. When traffic enters the driver's blind spot on either side of the vehicle, a warning light illuminates and a message also is displayed in the vehicle's message center. (Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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In this cutaway view, you can see where the rear radar device is located—in the far left of the photo, beneath the fascia, or side paneling. The red steel bar is the bumper frame, located beneath the skin in the rear. Another option is Ford's Rear View Camera system, which provides a clear view to the rear of the vehicle when backing up. This works through a small camera that is activated when the vehicle is shifted into reverse. The video image is displayed on the vehicle's rearview mirror (or on the navigation screen, if equipped).(Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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When the radar system detects a hazard from the rear (within 100 feet) or from the front (within 325 feet), three warning signals are activiated. The first is a flashing LED light on the dashboard that reflects up into the windshield; the second is a small yellow caution light that flashes in the rear-view mirrors; and the third is a repeating ding-dong tone. (Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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The MyKey feature enables a parent to program any key through the vehicle message center. When the MyKey is inserted into the ignition, the system reads a transponder chip and immediately identifies the MyKey code, which then enables certain default modes for the specific driver. For example, a MyKey pre-set might limit a young driver's speed to 60 mph, the volume level for the music player/radio at 40 percent, and establish an earlier "low-fuel" warning. The MyKey feature will become standard across the Ford line in 2010.(Graphic courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)

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Doug Vandagens, who co-directs connected services for Ford, explains how the Ford Service Delivery Network using voice commands works. For example, Microsoft's Sync application for Traffic, Directions and Information uses voice-recognition software, integrated GPS technology and a customer's Bluetooth-capable mobile phone, to provide hands-free access to traffic reports, turn-by-turn driving directions and up-to-date information that can even include business listings, news, sports and weather. The network starts with the voice portal powered by Tellme and uses traffic reports by Inrix, the deCarta routing engine (which has 800,000 miles of roadways mapped), and data voice-over services by Airbiquity. Telenav offers additional news, weather and sports reports.(Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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With the new Ford Transit Connect vans and trucks, it is now possible to have a fully functional mobile office that includes wireless Internet and printing services. Ford Work Solutions, optional on these vehicles, features an optional in-dash computer that provides full high-speed Internet and wireless accessories that include a mouse and printer; Tool Link, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) asset tracking system that enables customers to maintain a real-time inventory of tools or equipment stored in the vehicle; Crew Chief, a fleet telematics and diagnostics system; and the Cable Lock security system to secure equipment in the cargo area. These Transit Connect vehicles are new in the United States in 2010 after being available in Europe for several years.(Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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Here is the interior of a Transit Connect vehicle described in the previous slide. Shown is the in-dash, Windows-based computer with full high-speed Internet and wireless accessories that include a mouse and printer. Using these tools, a business user can locate inventory and service agreements in real time, for example, then print out work orders and receipts on the spot. The keyboard easily tucks away out of sight.(Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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Inside the Transit Connect vehicle, the touch-screen on the dashboard computer allows easy navigation through the Web. A user can always deploy the keyboard and mouse, if so desired.(Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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The on-board computer also provides easy access to the following: (clockwise from upper left) the open-source Opera browser; word processing; spreadsheets; PDF viewer; presentations (PowerPoint), and e-mail.(Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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Here in the 2010 Ford Focus, voice activation is used to make a call. You simply press a button on the steering wheel, tell the system who you want to dial, and the voice-recognition software does the rest.(Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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Using Bluetooth connectivity, you can easily sync up an iPod, iTouch, BlackBerry or other handheld device to the computer system in the car in order to listen to music fom the device. The dashboard display shows the song title and artist. (Photo by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK)

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This radar-based feature enables a driver to set a standard speed, then not have to worry if a slower vehicle comes up ahead. The Adaptive Cruise feature slows down your vehicle and keeps it a safe distance behind the slower car ahead.(Graphic courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)

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