June 26 - Reuters TV takes a look inside Ford of Europe's Research and Advanced Engineering Centre to see how new technologies will help avoid ''global gridlock'' and keep elderly motorists driving longer. Joanna Partridge reports.
It won't prevent every car crash but this automatic stop assistant could make roads safer. Ford demonstrated the new technology at its research and development centre in the German city of Aachen. One of the company's aims is to keep the older motorist on the road for longer, says Ford's Sheryl Connelly. SOUNDBITE: Sheryl Connelly, Global Consumer Trends & Futuring, Ford Motor Company "The most rapidly segment growth will come from the ageing population, throughout the United States every 7 seconds another person turns 65, and in the next couple of years there'll be more people aged over 65 than under 65 in the EU. So these will have dramatic consequences." Active City Stop uses sensors attached to the mirror - it's one of several devices designed with age in mind. SOUNDBITE: Sheryl Connelly, Global Consumer Trends & Futuring, Ford Motor Company "We have things like blind spot alert, that tells you, if you can't turn correctly to see your blind spot it tells you whether or not it's safe to change your lanes. We have things like adaptive cruise control so that the vehicle car will automatically slow down if the car that's in front of you suddenly puts on their brakes, the car will respond." Ford is of course keen to sell more and more cars. But the volume of traffic in the future could be a problem. That's where Traffic Jam Assistant comes in. It uses radars and cameras to make motorway driving - in theory - safer and less stressful. Pim Van der Jagt is head of the Research Department. (SOUNDBITE) (English): PIM VAN DER JAGT, HEAD OF THE RESEARCH DEPARTMENT, SAYING: "What you can expect for the future is these safety systems will get enhanced, so speed ranges go up, the conditions where they work will go up, we will start recognising pedestrians in a city, so every new release of those systems will be further enhanced. Where it will go in the long time nobody knows. Google is showing a fully autonomous car, we think that is still very far away, but in slow steps we work towards that direction." Ford insists it doesn't expect customers to shell out a fortune for the new devices. (SOUNDBITE) (English): PIM VAN DER JAGT, HEAD OF THE RESEARCH DEPARTMENT, SAYING: "Quite a few of the innovations we show here don't increase the cost much, a lot of them are already existing, sensors and actuators, combining with more software, so it's all coming together and we can enhance the vehicle more and more. Sync for example is a platform like in an iPhone, you can download apps to it, these apps are sometimes free or very cheap and just download them to the vehicle and they're ready for you." Space too will be a premium in the future. This car can park itself - and it can do so in a smaller parking space. That's something many of today's motorists could certainly use. Joanna Partridge, Reuters