All-new 2013 Ford Fusion to offer Lane Keeping Assist
While no images of the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion have yet been released, the automaker has confirmed that the next generation of its popular midsize sedan will offer an available Lane Keeping System (LKS). The new Fusion will launch at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, and it will mark the first time that any sort of lane-departure-warning system has been offered on a U.S. mainstream sedan in this segment. Virtually identical to the systems used on the Ford's 2012 Explorer and 2013 Escape, LKS can help prevent dangerous lane departures that result from driver fatigue, drowsiness or other distractions. Ford plans to introduce LKS to additional models in its lineup during the next several years.
The Ford Lane Keeping System relies on a digital camera mounted inside the car's windshield behind the rearview mirror to track various road markings, and it can be programmed to deliver three different levels of warnings: Lane Keeping Alert, Lane Keeping Aid and Driver Alert. Once LKS is enabled by the driver and the vehicle reaches a speed of 40 mph, the system enters its first stage of response. This consists of delivering mild tactile feedback through the steering wheel whenever it senses the car drifting towards the edge of a marked lane without the accompanying use of a directional signal. Should the driver fail to heed this initial warning, the intensity of the tactile feedback gets upped to resemble a series of rumble strips and the LKS gently guides the vehicle back toward the center of the lane.
In addition to its real-time assist capabilities, Ford's Lane Keeping System also has the ability to monitor and respond to driver responses over time. Should it note a series of moves consistent with the driver being drowsy, it moves into Driver Alert mode, in which an indicator that appears in a special alertness display in the main instrument cluster starts moving closer and closer to an icon of a steaming cup of coffee. If the driving pattern doesn't change, LKS will provide an audible chime and visual alert that suggest the driver stop and rest. Failure to do so will elicit a second and even more intense warning that it's time to "Rest Now." Switching off the ignition and restarting the car will automatically reset the system.
"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."