To Explore the Future of Auto Safety, Ford Goes High Tech

By Tori T.

Reality check? More like virtual reality check! Did you know Ford has a state-of-the-art VIRtual Test Track EXperiment (VIRTTEX) simulator from which to check real-world driving scenarios and then develop and test out future safety and driver-aid technologies? The VIRTTEX name alone sounds pretty cool, but wait’ll you learn how Ford utilizes it.

First, a brief backgrounder: Ford is the only North American automaker with a high-fidelity, motion-based simulator featuring a spherical dome on top of a hydraulic system to mimic vehicle movement. The simulator was developed in 2001.

In 2003, Ford conducted one of its first driver-distraction studies in VIRTTEX, which measured a driver's failure to detect safety-relevant events while doing visual or manual tasks such as retrieving voicemail on a handheld cell phone.

Recent upgrades to VIRTTEX include improved image rendering technologies and capabilities to study driver performance. It has also expanded to include a high-resolution, digitally projected 360-degree horizontal field-of-view to test and measure driver acceleration, braking and steering. Overall driver reactions to various conditions factors in, too.

The improved imagery creates the most realistic scenarios thus far, including other traffic, pedestrians and landmarks alongside the roadway, and Ford engineers hope to respond with technologies that can warn drivers of imminent collision, drowsiness and other potentially dangerous scenarios behind the wheel.

How exactly would the safety systems warn you, the driver? You’ve asked a good question: Numerous types of alerts are being researched, including audible, visual and tactile as well as vibrating to see whether they are most effective alone or in combination.

VIRTTEX has already helped in the development of heads-up displays, drowsy driver alerts and lane departure warning technology soon to be available on the all-new Ford Fusion.
Alex Edmundson 02/22/2012
This is all thanks for not taking a bailout. Ford is pulling ahead of the big 3 pretty fast without all that debt owed to the govt. Good job Ford. Well done, keep it up!
Brad Barefoot 02/22/2012
Hey Ford ! Bliss, rear view camera, rear sonar for backup, all we need now is the C-Max SEL Hybrid to package it all up in. With the new round of gas prices the C-Max Hybrid is needed. Any chance of a Spring '12 due date instead of the Fall? America needs this now. I feel in love at the Detroit Auto Show, can I get the one I looked at there? All joking aside the home folks need the little guy. In NC gas hit $4 a gallon on the mid-range (89% oct.) I prefer to use. I have to bragg on my Fusion ... As a Fusionologist I strive for gas mileage. I got almost 39mpg
on a recent trip. 38.9 mpg to be exact. Take that GM !
Jose Lockward 02/22/2012
where is this simulator located? and does anyone can use it or just Ford employees?
Will the 2013 Escape be able to carry a liftgate in back for motorized scooter I have one on my Mariner 2009 right now and wish to transfer when I purchased a 2013 Escape I have seen the new escape and love it, now just have to convince my wife it is a good move. Good Luck in Nascar this year hopefully you can bury Hendricks Motorsports they are to arrogant.
Anton Koryagin 02/22/2012
KA - with you !
Roger S. Merriam 02/21/2012
Brandon Hubbard 02/21/2012
If you wanted to study driver performance, all you had to do was call me! Think I'm free this weekend...
Roger 02/21/2012
Do you have any plans for a wheelchair accommodating car that can be driven with handcontols?
Faurecia North America 02/21/2012
Very cool!
Val Magnuson 02/21/2012
hey ford- my lincoln is lousy in the snow- in fact, it's rotten in the snow- I never had this problem with other lincolns-
Scott McGovern 02/21/2012
I really appreciate the way ford is dedicated to improve the safety features. Love your car !!
Two Rivers Ford 02/21/2012
Ford is the best! Always #1!
Sameer Zia Khatib 02/21/2012
come 2 tarapura near khopoli 2 see the event of Endeavour
Pat Ford 02/21/2012
FORD is #1
Car Shipping Rates | Auto Transport Quote | National Transport, LLC 02/21/2012
It actually looks like a lot of fun!
Spike Mike 02/21/2012
I wanna take a ride :-)
Spike Mike 02/21/2012
I wanna take a ride :-)
To Explore the Future of Auto Safety, Ford Goes High Tech
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