November 20, 2004 Details of Ford’s Mercury Meta One concept have emerged in the lead-up to the 2005 North American International Auto Show. With an emphasis on high-tech, pro-active new safety features such as "Lane Departure Warning" and "Collision Mitigation by Braking", the Meta One also promises a world-first advanced powertrain, and enhanced electronics in a design that explores the adaptation of the Mercury DNA to a crossover vehicle.
Much of the science of automobile safety has focused on passive restraints, or how to protect occupants during a crash. Ford is researching and applying active safety measures in production vehicles and concepts designed with the intention to prevent some accidents from occurring.
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Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Ford's Lane Departure Warning is a mechanized vision system designed to recognize lane markings and a vehicle's lateral position to those markings. It can provide a visual, audible and/or haptic (vibrating) warning to the driver if the vehicle departs from a distinguishable travel lane without activation of the appropriate turn signal. In the concept car, a right lane departure triggers a vibration to the right side of the seat; a left lane departure spurs vibration of the left side of the seat.
In Lane Departure Warning, vehicle position is evaluated by a camera system mounted behind the windshield that measures the lateral distance from the camera's center line to the left and right lane markings. The system works during the day or at night while headlights are in use. Naturally, the system does not warn the driver if the turn signals are used before changing lanes. The system is still under development for conditions without clear lane markings and overall system reliability.
Collision Mitigation by Braking (CMbB)
Ford's Research and Advanced Engineering group developed Mercury Meta One's Collision Mitigation by Braking (or CMbB system) in co-operation with researchers at the Volvo Safety Center. The system is a form of pre-emptive automatic breaking that uses sensors to predict an impending frontal collision and responds by amplifying the driver's braking and automatically applying additional brake pressure.
Depending on relative speed and other factors, every metre per second that a vehicle is slowed before impact reduces the energy of a crash and in turn, the severity of the collision.
CMbB applies automatic braking when it determines with certainty that a collision with another vehicle is unavoidable in both high and low speed situations. Importantly, the function assumes the driver has ultimate authority, and it will not interfere with any potential evasive maneuver initiated by the driver.
Ford's CMbB pre-crash sensors consist of a camera and radar to sense vehicles on the road ahead and an electronic control unit (ECU), which determines whether a collision is imminent based on the position, speed and direction of other vehicles. Using estimates of collision threat and driver intent, the CMbB system provides driver warning and enhanced brake control when needed. Depending on speed and road factors, the braking can automatically reduce vehicle speed by five miles per hour or more before an impact. The radar and camera systems are under development so that the system works reliably in heavy rain, fog and other adverse driving conditions.
"Even a few mph reduction at impact can make a difference," says Priya Prasad, Ford Technical Fellow, Safety Research and Development. "The amount of energy at impact is a strong function of speed, so even a slight reduction in speed offers a significant reduction in force."
In addition to the safety innovations showcased in the Mercury Meta One, the concept also presents a world-first advanced powertrain plus enhanced electronics and personalisation features.
Meta One stretches the distinct sophistication of Mercury's design DNA. The brand's contemporary look is evident on the new Monterey minivan, Mariner SUV and Montego sedan.
Mercury will build a new crossover vehicle in 2007.
Meta One explores adaptation of the Mercury design DNA to a crossover and gives a hint of what such a product could represent for the brand. The concept vehicle and all of its advanced features will be unveiled at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in January.