Ford Tests Smart Traffic Lights to Aid Emergency Vehicles
Ford is running an experiment in Aachen, Germany that could revolutionize how emergency vehicles are able to respond to crisis situations. While an emergency vehicle running its sirens has the right to run a red light, pulling up to an intersection and finding the way blocked by other cars without that same privilege can make it impossible for an ambulance, fire truck, or police car to pass, causing first responders to lose precious seconds on their way to a scene. The connected traffic light technology that Ford is running trials of will cause the lights to automatically go green for these kinds of vehicles, creating a clearer path and lessening the risk of accidents that might occur from first responders driving through a red light.
To run this test, Ford located a road in Aachen with eight consecutive traffic lights and two stretches with three consecutive traffic lights just outside of Aachen. The Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid test vehicle acted as both an ambulance and a passenger vehicle for the experiment, carrying on-board units for communicating with the infrastructure and rapid control prototyping hardware to run the prototype software.
To simulate an emergency situation, the test vehicle signaled the traffic lights to turn green. Once the test vehicle had gone through the intersection, the traffic lights reverted to their standard operating procedure. To test the technology’s applications on regular daily driving, the test vehicle acted as a passenger vehicle and received information about when the traffic lights would change. Ford’s Adaptive Cruise Control technology then adjusted the vehicle’s speed to maximize how often the vehicle hit a green light, such as reducing speed well ahead of an intersection where the light was currently red to time the vehicle’s approach with the moment the light changed to green. This technology can also help to soften breaking and reduce time spent at a standstill when a car does encounter a red light.
This experiment is just one part of a larger project that has included automated and connected vehicles and infrastructure on highways and in urban and rural areas, all of which can be used together to change the way we drive. In the case of this study, it’s not only applicable in terms of first responders but can be helpful to anyone on the road. This research is all indicative of Ford’s commitment to improving the overall experience of driving by using the latest tech and innovation.