Regardless of how loud their sirens are, accurately locating approaching emergency vehicles while behind the wheel can be difficult. And those that don't realize such vehicles are headed their way can slow their progress through traffic. Ford is trying to cut down on such delays with a prototype system that lets drivers know exactly where the emergency vehicle is coming from so they can get out of the way.
The system is fairly simple and relies on a signal sent out by a GPS transponder mounted on the roof of police cars, ambulances or fire trucks. When an emergency vehicle with its sirens engaged comes close to the car, drivers would be warned through the display in the instrument binnacle, or given a detailed look at how far away the vehicle is through the central navigation screen.
"Time is precious for emergency services and this technology could help to shave valuable seconds off their journeys by enabling drivers to avoid being an obstruction," says Christian Ress, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. According to Ford, there are 435 accidents involving emergency vehicles every year in the UK. Should it be widely adopted, Emergency Vehicle Warning technology could help cut those numbers.
Along with the Emergency Vehicle Warning system, Ford is trialling technology that warns drivers of potential accidents at blind junctions. If, for example, a driver ignores a red light up ahead, cars approaching that junction will receive a notice via the dashboard warning them to slow down. Mercedes has a similar system (called Car-to-X communication) on the E-Class, while Audi has played around with connected technology to help its drivers catch green lights.
At the moment, the Emergency Vehicle Warning system is only in the testing phase. It'll be put to the test at UK Autodrive this week, where technology and automotive businesses are meeting to trial connected car technologies.
You can check out an explainer video for the technologies below.