While Ford is not yet ready to let the cat out of the bag on the brand-new 2013 Fusion (which will form the base for the Mondeo’s replacement in Europe as well), the Detroit carmaker revealed today that the mid-size model would debut a new optional safety feature called Lane Keeping System or LKS.
Ford’s system makes use of a digital camera mounted on the windshield ahead of the rearview mirror. Once it detects that the vehicle is approaching the edge of the lane without a turn signal activated, a warning icon on the dash lights up and steering wheel vibrates to simulate driving over rumble strips.
The Blue Oval says that if the driver doesn’t respond and continues to wander out of the lane, the icon turns red and EPAS will nudge the steering and the vehicle back toward the center of the lane.
If that doesn’t do the trick, then vibration is added again along with the nudge. Ford says that the driver can overcome assistance and vibration at any time simply by turning the steering wheel, accelerating or braking.
“Fusion’s Lane Keeping System combines a digital imaging sensor with our own state-of-the-art control software to process images and determine what level of warning or assistance to provide to the driver,” said Michael Kane, Ford development engineer. “We’ve put a lot of effort into ensuring the accuracy of the lane detection and the smoothness of the assist.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 100,000 police-reported crashes occur every year as a result of drowsy drivers, leading to 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
Aside from the new Fusion, Ford will gradually roll out the Lane Keeping System to a wide range of its vehicles over the next several years, including the new Explorer that will get the optional feature sometime next year.