The 2013 Ford Fusion will officially debut in January, but we’ve got the scoop on some new technology making its first appearance on a mainstream midsize sedan in North America.
Lane Keeping System (or LKS) is, simply put, designed to help you stay inside the lines, and we know that’s of much importance not only when coloring, but while driving! LKS is set up to alert and assist if your vehicle drifts out of the lane. It recognizes the problem via a windshield-mounted digital camera that detects lane markers and the vehicle’s position on the road. Three levels of assistance help in real time: Lane Keeping Alert, Lane Keeping Aid and Driver Alert.
Once vehicle speed is above 40 mph and lane markers are clearly visible on the road, an icon that looks like a car between two lanes lights up green in the instrument cluster to indicate the system has been enabled. LKS takes advantage of the electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) used in the new Fusion to provide a vibrating alert to you before gently steering the car back into the lane if you don’t respond.
When the system detects the vehicle is approaching the edge of the lane without a turn signal activated, the lane marker in the icon turns yellow and the steering wheel vibrates to simulate driving over rumble strips. If you don’t respond and continue to drift, the lane icon turns red and EPAS will nudge the steering and the vehicle back toward the center of the lane. If the vehicle continues to drift, the vibration is added again along with the nudge. You can overcome assistance and vibration at any time by turning the steering wheel, accelerating or braking.
Michael Kane, Ford Development Engineer, explained that LKS “keeps track of behavior over a longer period while driving. If a driver is tired, this can often be detected by the car constantly drifting back and forth across the road.” You can monitor whether the system is detecting behavior consistent with drowsy driving with an alert gauge in the instrument cluster that features a steaming cup of coffee. In other words, consider taking a break. If you don’t take one and the system detects a driving pattern consistent with being tired, an audible chime and a visual alert will suggest you stop and rest. If the same conditions persist and you don’t stop, a second, more assertive warning will be issued. As soon as you stop and shut off the engine or opens the door, the monitor resets its information.
Michael added, “We’ve put a lot of effort into ensuring the accuracy of the lane detection and the smoothness of the assist.” The LKS technology will also be available on the Explorer in 2012, and Ford intends to offer LKS on more of its vehicles over the next several years.