Moving to further enhance at-the-limit controllability of its future SUV, crossover, truck and van lines, Ford has announced it will add Curve Control to the existing vehicle dynamics mix. Curve Control is designed to sense when a vehicle is entering a corner too quickly -- a condition drivers are most likely to encounter when entering or exiting freeways -- and automatically but selectively apply "smart" four-wheel braking while reducing engine torque in a way that dramatically increases the chance of maintaining full control. Although the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer will be the first to be fitted with Curve Control, by 2015 the automaker expects to offer it on 90 percent of the aforementioned vehicles its sells in North America.
Effectively another layer of intervention capability that builds on the existing AdvanceTrac with Roll Control System, the patent-pending Curve Control does not require the use of any additional hardware beyond the existing array of RSC sensors that measure roll rate, yaw rate, lateral acceleration, wheel speed and steering wheel angle. Unlike most conventional stability control systems that are skewed to activate in response to an instantaneous oversteer condition, Curve Control is designed to engage when it senses that the vehicle is not turning in as much as the driver is steering -- a condition known as "pushing" -- and to do so in a sustained manner, if necessary.
To work its dynamic magic, Curve Control employs a new software algorithm that permits even more aggressive engagement of the anti-lock brake system. In addition to allowing selective -- and simultaneous -- modulated engagement on all four wheels, Curve Control can also rapidly reduce engine torque. For claims that when it's operating in max mode, Curve Control can activate this 1-2 punch effectively enough to slow a vehicle by up to 10 mph in one second. Like RSC, Curve Control calculates its response to various sensor inputs 100 times a second to determine when and precisely how aggressively it needs to engage to keep the vehicle on an intended path -- and whether that corrective action will entail the uses of both its torque-reduction and ABS intervention capabilities.
In analyzing U.S. government accident data, Ford research found that nearly 50,000 crashes occur each year as the result of people attempting to negotiate corners too quickly. Given that a disproportionate number of the incidents involved vehicles entering or exiting Interstates, the automaker is convinced that Curve Control can play a significant role in helping drivers to reduce both the number and severity of those types of accidents.