A collaboration between Ford and Here Technologies is introducing a new automated Local Hazard Information (LHI) system that uses cloud-based connected vehicle (CV) technology to offer drivers advance warning of potential dangers on the road ahead.
Ford’s new LHI technology marks a significant step on the journey towards a connected transport infrastructure by helping drivers prepare for, and potentially avoid, dangers on the road. When drivers ahead encounter sudden tailbacks, accidents or spilled loads, the driver behind, and possibly out of sight, is given advance warning. This could also apply to everything from freak hailstorms, to sudden flooding, or even landslides. The triggers for the system come from what is happening in the cars ahead. It could be that airbags have been activated, hazard warning lights are flashing, or windscreen wipers are in operation. Previous traffic incident alert systems have relied on drivers to input information in order to generate alerts, however the LHI system works autonomously, without the need for any driver interaction, to generate information and issue warnings.
Hazards are only displayed on the dashboard screen if the incident is likely to impact on the driver’s journey. LHI is designed to be more beneficial to drivers than hazard information from current radio broadcasting systems, which often deliver notifications not relevant to them.
Already featuring as standard and free of charge for the first year on Ford’s new Puma model, LHI technology is being rolled out across more than 80% of the company’s passenger vehicle line-up by the end of this year. Crucially, the benefit will not be limited only to those travelling in Ford vehicles. Information sent can be used to alert drivers of other manufacturers’ vehicles, and vice-versa.
Sensors monitor activities including emergency braking, fog lights and traction control to detect adverse weather or road conditions. Data from these activities is then computed to determine the hazard location and whether a traffic incident has occurred. The vehicle automatically provides updates through a secure connection to the cloud using the FordPass Connect modem. Ford’s technology partner Here operates the central cloud-based platform that collates information from multiple vehicle brands, governed by a business‑to‑business agreement. Prior to publishing a hazard warning, Here ensures that a certain quality threshold is reached through one or multiple hazard indication messages. When vehicles generate the same warning, others in the vicinity receive incident information from the cloud via the cellular network, enabling drivers to take appropriate action.
Currently, Here receives sensor data for Hazard Warnings and its other CV services such as Real-Time Traffic and Road Signs from more than two million connected cars on the road. The more cars are connected to the network, the greater the efficiency of the system. Additional information is sourced from public authority incident databases and traffic reports to provide drivers with further advance warnings including approaching vehicles driving on the wrong side of the carriageway, animals or people in the road ahead, and roadworks.
“What makes Local Hazard Information different is that it is the cars that are connected via the Internet of Things. There is no reliance on third party apps,” noted Joerg Beyer, executive director of engineering at Ford of Europe. “This is a significant step forward. Warnings are specific, relevant and tailored to try to help improve your specific journey.”