Ford will install 180-degree cameras on the front grill of some of its vehicles to allow drivers to see around corners at blind junctions.
The Front Split View Camera, as Ford calls the device, is designed to remove the need to edge forward in order to determine traffic conditions at blind junctions and other situations with reduced visibility.
The camera will first be made available on Ford’s new S-MAX and Galaxy models.
“We have all been there and it’s not just blind junctions that can be stressful - sometimes an overhanging tree or bushes can be the problem,” said Ronny Hause, engineer at Ford Europe’s Driver Assistance Electronic Systems unit.
“For some, simply driving off their own driveways is a challenge. Much like rear-view cameras, Front Split View Camera is one of those technologies that people will soon wonder how they managed without.”
The one-megapixel camera, activated with a button on the car’s dashboard, provides the driver with a perfect view of the situation to the left and right from the car’s front, allowing him to see any approaching vehicles, pedestrians and obstacles on an eight-inch colour touchscreen.
The camera, just 33 millimetres wide, is kept clear by a specially designed retractable jet-washer that operates automatically when the windscreen wipers are activated.
“From sunrise to sunset, we tested the Front Split View Camera on all kinds of roads, congested urban streets and areas with a lot of cyclists and pedestrians,” Hause said. “Tackling tunnels, narrow alleys and garages in all light conditions also meant we could ensure the technology worked well even when sunlight was shining directly into the camera.”
Ford already offers Rear View Camera technology that helps drivers manoeuvre the vehicle when in reverse and the Cross Traffic Alert system, which uses rear-mounted sensors to warn drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them.
The new front-grill camera may offer another major improvement in situational awareness of the drivers and thus reduce the number of accidents.
“Pulling out at a blind junction can be a tricky manoeuvre for new and experienced drivers alike. The best approach has traditionally been to simply lean forward to get the best view whilst creeping forwards with the windows wound down to listen for approaching vehicles, but cyclists are a particular risk as they can’t be heard,” said Keith Freeman, an AA Quality Training Manager in the U.K. “This technology will certainly make emerging from anywhere with a restricted view so much safer and the experience less nerve-wracking for those behind the wheel.”
According to the European Road Safety Observatory up to 19 per cent of road accidents are caused by obstructions in the view of drivers.
Watch Ford's demonstration of its Front Split View Camera technology: