Technology being rolled out by Ford could mean fewer collisions caused by drivers pulling out of a junction while their view of the road they are joining is obstructed, with the motor giant fitting 180-degree cameras to some of its new models to effectively allow motorists to see round corners.
The camera lens is embedded in the front grille, with the driver pushing a button to see the footage it provides shown on an 8-inch screen on the dashboard, and that means that rather than edging out into the road and hope nothing is coming, they can check more easily that the coast is clear.
Here’s a video showing how the Ford Split View Front Camera, which will be available as an option to the company’s latest S-MAX and Galaxy vehicles as well as the Edge SUV which comes to the UK later this year, works.
Ford engineer Ronny Hause said: “We have all been there and it’s not just blind junctions that can be stressful, sometimes an overhanging tree, or bushes can be the problem.
“For some, simply driving off their own driveways is a challenge. This is one of those technologies that people will soon wonder how they managed without.”
The camera is yet another example of how car manufacturers and others are using technology to improve the safety of road users.
But while the likes of Google, with its self-driving car, and Volvo, with a system that detects vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, are seeking to eliminate the human error element that is a factor in most collisions, Ford’s camera for now does not.
So in terms of the safety of cyclists, there is likely to be a degree of apprehension that some drivers using the technology will be looking primarily for cars and other vehicles, and fail to spot someone riding in a bike lane, say.
With the pace of technological innovation in automotive technology that is being driven by major players in the automotive market, it’s perhaps not too much of a stretch to hope that a few years down the line, devices that improve what motorists are able to see may be combined with collision avoidance systems and come as standard on new vehicles.
Ford itself has already outlined its “Vision for the Future” in which it envisages “automated vehicles that still keep the driver in the loop to take back control of the vehicle, if needed.”
However, it admitted that “this vision will likely not be realised for many years,” and that “many technological details remain to be worked out, and drivers will need to become comfortable with the idea of giving up some measure of driving control to their vehicle, which will not happen quickly.”
Keith Freeman, a quality training manager for the AA quoted in a post on the Ford Social website, said that Ford’s new camera would make it much easier for motorists to spot cyclists than is the case at present.
“Pulling out at a blind junction can be a tricky manoeuvre for new and experienced drivers alike,” said Mr Freeman, who is also involved in the Ford Driving Skills for Life initiative, which is aimed at training young drivers.
“The best approach has traditionally been to simply lean forward to get the best view whilst creeping forwards with the windows wound down to listen for approaching vehicles, but cyclists are a particular risk as they can’t be heard,” he went on.
“This technology will certainly make emerging from anywhere with a restricted view so much safer and the experience less nerve-wracking for those behind the wheel,” he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.