Ford Adds Auto-Braking, Pedestrian Detection to Collision-Warning System

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Ford plans to add pedestrian detection and auto-braking to its forward-collision warning system with a network of radars and windshield-mounted cameras. Dubbed Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, the technology debuts on the 2015 Ford Mondeo in Europe and will roll out to “other Ford and Lincoln products around the world,” the company said Thursday in a press release.

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Pre-Collision Assist reads a lot like Subaru’s EyeSight system, which uses a pair of windshield-mounted cameras to detect pedestrians, lane markings and other obstructions. EyeSight, which includes auto-braking, scored the highest in a 2013 test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of various collision-warning systems for the 2013 and 2014 model years.

At the time, IIHS also tested the optional forward-collision warning systems in the Ford Edge, Explorer, Flex and Fusion, as well as the Lincoln MKT, MKX and MKZ. Since then, the institute tested systems in the Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS, but without auto-braking capabilities, all nine cars earned a basic rating — the lowest of three grades — under IIHS’ frontal-crash prevention scores. Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker confirmed to that Ford’s forward-collision warning system today still lacks auto-braking.

PCA will change that.

The new system comes a year after Ford prototyped its Obstacle Avoidance system, which combined similar object detection technology with automatic braking and steering. PCA warns the driver of an obstruction and auto-brakes the car if you don’t respond — though if you’re driving too fast, that will only lessen, not avoid, the collision. Nighttime and certain weather conditions can limit its abilities, Ford warned.

The automaker said it tested PCA on three continents and more than 300,000 real-world miles to fine-tune the system’s ability to distinguish pedestrians of all shapes and sizes from stationary roadside objects. Which U.S. cars will see its debut? With a busy auto-show season just around the corner, there’s a good chance we’ll get the answer soon.

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