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Ford debuts new curve control technology

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Ford debuts new curve control technology

Sensors help slow vehicle rounding a turn too rapidly

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

Dearborn -- For anyone who has experienced that moment of panic from rounding an exit ramp too quickly, Ford Motor Co. is offering a safety solution.

The 2011 Ford Explorer -- due later this year -- has an upgraded electronic stability control system to better hug the road if a driver takes a curve too quickly. Ford demonstrated its curve control technology Monday.

The technology, in development for 18 months, builds on the current stability control system, using the same sensors to monitor how much the driver wants to turn, versus how much the vehicle is actually turning. If the input data determines the driver won't make the turn safely, it can slow the vehicle 10 miles per hour in a second, by cutting engine torque and applying the brakes.


In the first demonstration, with stability control but no curve control, an Explorer taking a curve at 50 mph wiped out orange cones as the rear end skidded out. Test driver and engineer Dave Messih said in real life, the car would have been on the shoulder -- a mistake that can result in a rollover. In the second demonstration, with curve technology engaged, Messih took the corner at the same speed and again kept his foot off the brake. The corrective technology braked and snapped the rear into place, executing the turn seamlessly. The sensation was dramatic but not jarring.

"We all like to think we're professional drivers and don't need this," said analyst Erich Merkle, president of Autoconomy in Grand Rapids. "Even good drivers in unfamiliar territory or in severe weather could benefit from this," he said. "Putting it in a family vehicle makes sense."

Taking a curve quickly contributes to 50,000 crashes a year in the United States, said Paul Mascarenas, vice president of global product engineering.

Ford's curve control will be standard on the Explorer and will be added to 90 percent of Ford's light trucks and crossovers by 2015. Eventually, it will find its way to cars, but because their lower center of gravity makes them less likely to roll over, trucks are the initial priority, said Sue Cischke, group vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering.

Ford's system is unique, said Ali Jammoul, chief chassis engineer. There is little incremental cost; it was developed as part of continuous improvement of stability control and no additional hardware is required.

For 2011, the Explorer switches to a car-based vehicle. Curve control is one of a raft of safety features including inflatable rear seat belts, adaptive cruise control and blind spot and cross-traffic alerts.

In 2001, problems with Firestone tires contributed to a number of Explorer rollovers that led to regulations mandating stability control. For the new Explorer, "Ford is going way overboard on safety features," Merkle said.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100629/AUTO01/6290339/1148/auto01/Ford-debuts-new-curve-control-technology#ixzz0sFCKrgjj

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Ford Explorer's curve-control technology to start

Safety system to debut in 2011 SUV



Ford said Monday it will introduce a curve-control system on its 2011 Ford Explorer that will swiftly apply brakes to help drivers stay on course if they enter a curve too fast.

It is the second safety-related technology that Ford said it plans to debut on the Explorer, a vehicle that redefined the SUV segment in the 1990s but was the subject of several recalls in 2000 and 2001 because of rollover problems tied to its Firestone tires.

Last fall, Ford said it would introduce inflatable seat belts for rear-seat passengers on the Explorer.

"This is just our opportunity to really showcase all of our new safety technologies," said Susan Cischke, Ford's group vice president of sustainability and safety.

"We are all about family safety, and this is really a family vehicle."

Ford said it plans to add the curve-control system to 90% of its North American crossovers, sport utilities, trucks and vans by 2015 and will eventually add it to all vehicles.

The curve-control system uses the same sensors as Ford's electronic stability-control system, which monitors the wheel speed, tilt of the vehicle and other inputs 100 times per second.

Stability control cuts the engine's power and applies the brakes to individual wheels if it senses a driver going off-course.

Ford said it spent 18 months enhancing its software to develop the system. Paul Mascarenas, Ford's vice president of engineering for global product development, said it required no additional hardware.

Mascarenas said Ford's curve-control system can slow the Explorer's speed by as much as 10 m.p.h.in one second.

Ford decided to develop the system because U.S. government crash data show that about 50,000 serious crashes annually are tied to driving too fast on curves such as highway off-ramps and on-ramps.

Ford plans to reveal the design of its 2011 Ford Explorer in July, and production will begin near the end of the year at its assembly plant in Chicago.



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