At Ford Philippines\' press conference for yesterday\'s opening of its Future Of Safety exhibition in Bonifacio Global City, the American carmaker flew into the country the managing director of the Ford European Research Center in Aachen, Germany, Pim van der Jagt.
Van der Jagt\'s role at Ford is vital since he heads one of the carmaker\'s two advanced research and engineering centers, with the other one being located in the company\'s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, in the United States.
We sat down with van der Jagt to ask him about Ford\'s current safety systems, and what the company is developing for the future.
We recently featured the remote-control parking system that Ford is currently developing. How far do you have to be from the vehicle to use this?
It\'s not so much the limitation of the transmitter. It\'s more out of safety reasons. We want the driver or the operator to be close enough so he can see if somebody might suddenly jump in between the vehicles or, if he\'s moving out of the parking slot, to spot oncoming high-speed traffic. We\'re still discussing how far the operator can be, but we want him close enough to oversee the whole situation. The parking speed is below 15kph and that\'s more than enough. And yes, you can still remotely control the car while inside it but it doesn\'t make much sense.
How soon will we see this technology in Ford vehicles?
We still have to determine what cars the system will be in, but what I can tell you is that in five years, it will be here.
Systems like park assist used to be exclusive to luxury vehicles, but Ford is now offering it in its mass-market cars. Has the cost of the equipment become more affordable?
Our volume plays a role in it because in the Focus, we\'re not talking about tens of thousands of vehicles; we\'re talking about hundreds of thousands of vehicles or even more. So that has an influence on the price of those instruments. We build one-and-a-half-million Focuses every year. We have an enormous volume so we can bring down the price of those sensors significantly.
What other systems is Ford working on that we\'ll see in your products in the near future?
One system that we\'re working on that\'s both for safety and convenience and that we\'re really proud of, is the traffic-jam assist. On a motorway in a traffic jam, the car will drive completely by itself; the driver doesn\'t have to do anything. For a lot of people, especially those who live in major cities and have to experience heavy traffic jams that last one or two hours, they can get very sleepy or easily distracted. But the traffic-jam system is always alert and will always brake. It will follow the lane it\'s on. Perhaps for the future generation, it will also be able to overtake and change lanes.
What can you say about people who believe that driver-aid systems like these are making today\'s drivers dumb?
People have been saying that since the electronic stability program was introduced in vehicles. You\'re driving a car fast and you momentarily lose control, but the ESP stabilizes the vehicle. You don\'t suddenly think you\'re the world\'s greatest race driver and start driving like crazy and take every corner at full speed. People don\'t just start driving faster or change their driving habits just because of these systems. The active city stop system, for example, brakes so late that it will really only stop at 4cm or 5cm away from the car in front. You\'re not going to ignore braking and say, \"Oh the system will do it for me.\" You won\'t be that confident.
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