Ford uses light-based communication for autonomous cars 

Motorists have long used hand gestures and eye contact to communicate with other road users and pedestrians. However, for when vehicles of the future have no human driver, Ford has developed a light-based system to indicate what the vehicle is doing.
Using coloured lights mounted above the windshield of a Ford Transit Connect van, the car maker trialled how pedestrians would respond and react to the ‘driverless’ vehicle, which actually had a human operator hidden in the driver’s seat.
The light bar flashed a series of colours – white, purple, and turquoise – to indicate when the van was driving, about to pull away or stopping to give way. The driver hidden in the ‘human car seat’ was able to effectively gauge the responses of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.

The Results

The tests revealed that turquoise was the colour people reacted to the most as it was more noticeable than white and confused less with red than purple.
“Fundamentally, people need to trust autonomous vehicles and developing one universal visual means of communication is a key to that. Turning someone into a ‘Human Car Seat’ was one of those ideas when there was a bit of a pause and then the realisation that this was absolutely the best and most effective way of finding out what we needed to know,” said Thorsten Warwel, Ford of Europe core lighting Manager.

The Goal

Ford is working toward the goal of delivering its first self-driving car to North America by 2021, so ensuring the public trusts and can safely understand what an autonomous vehicle will do is essential.
Further tests to Ford’s lighting system have been carried out in the USA, as well as Germany at the Chemnitz University of Technology, where researchers placed lights in different areas around the car including the headlamps and grille.
“Making eye contact is important – but our study showed that first and foremost road users look to see what a vehicle is doing. The next step is to look at how we can ensure the light signals are made clearer and more intuitive,” said Dr Matthias Beggiato, department of psychology, at the university.
Courtesy of WERC Vice Chairperson Omar Ricardo Chehayeb

Ford Makes Strides In Health And Safety

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa’s (FMCSA) Struandale Engine Plant was recently recognised in Ford Motor Company’s President Awards, for its progress in the field of Health and Safety.
Doctor Bonakele Qabaka received an award for Excellence in Health and Safety Leadership in the company’s global awards. Dr. Qabaka joined FMCSA’s Struandale Engine Plant nearly two years ago and has since actively supported the implementation of the new Safety Operating system. In so doing, he continuously challenges those involved to work actively towards creating a safe work environment.
“It is an honour to receive this accolade,” commented Dr. Qabaka. “I strongly believe in the slogan ‘batho pele’, meaning people first and I am grateful to Ford for providing us with the platform that makes this possible.”
FMCSA’S HIV/AIDS team was also honoured with an award for Implementation of HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme. The HIV/AIDS team lead by Kurt Bothman, Ivy Appolis, Serano Vardy and Siphiwo Dyani worked tirelessly in their efforts to establish an external support partnership with the Automotive Industry Development Centre in rolling out HIV/AIDS prevention programmes at supplier work sites.
“I’d like to thank the whole team for their hard work and dedication. This award is a testament to the collective effort required to succeed in such initiatives,” commented team leader Bothman.
FMCSA congratulates all the award recipients on achieving these coveted accolades and showcasing the FMCSA operation as a leader on the global stage.

Ford Honours Top Dealers

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has recognised its top dealer franchises in its annual Dealer of the Year (DOTY) competition. B&M Bredasdorp emerged as the overall winner in the 2011 DOTY awards.
The incentivised programme allows Ford to motivate its dealer network staff and reward them for their performance and achievements during 2011. The competition yields one overall DOTY winner and six additional category winners as well as runner-up prizes.
“We would like to congratulate all of this year’s award recipients and thank them for their continued hard work and dedication” says Dean Stoneley Vice President: Marketing, Sales and Service. “In particular we would like to single out B&M Bredasdorp for emerging as the top dealer of the year, from a pool of exceptional performers.”
Dealers were divided into six performance categories (A, B, C, D, E and F) based on market share and sales volumes. They were then assessed on their performance in a number of different areas including sales and marketing, customer service, portrayal of the brand, dealer standards, penetration of Ford Financial Service offerings and training and development.
Congratulations to the following winners and runners-up:
• B&M Bredasdorp– Overall Winner
• Human Auto Group – Group Winner
• Lazarus Motor Company, Centurion – Winner Group A
• Eagle Corner, Bramley – Runner-up Group A
• Ritchie Auto, Richards Bay – Winner Group B
• Nelspruit Mazda Nelspruit – Runner-up Group B
• Ben Morgenrood, Randfontein – Winner Group C
• Casseys Auto, Springs – Runner-up Group C
• Fed Auto, Newcastle – Winner Group D
• Porters Auto, Kroonstad – Runner-up Group D
• Supreme Auto, Vryburg – Winner Group E
• Ritchie Auto, Standerton – Runner-up Group E
• B&M Bredasdorp – Winner Group F
• Dries Auto, Harrismith – Runner-up Group F
“We are extremely proud of our winning dealerships for achieving outstanding results during 2011. The market continues to be faced with many challenges making hard work, creativity and exceptional customer service more important than ever. We are confident that in 2012 the dealer network will once again raise the bar and rise to the task at hand,” concludes Stoneley.