Ford Motor Company has partnered with insurance giants Geico and Progressive to build the world’s first hyper-legal car. Fresh from its revelation that it had developed an automobile using smart technology that would prevent drivers from accidentally speeding, Ford has announced its plans to build a vehicle safe by intelligent design that is incapable of breaking motor vehicle laws regardless of the location where it is used. The new concept integrates most of what has been learned in the research into producing autonomous vehicles with some of the now standard features like backup and collision avoidance technologies. While the design being considered still requires a driver to participate in the operation of the vehicle, systems have been created that assist the driver in getting to his destination in both a safe and legal manner.
Using several systems in concert was key to the concept. While half a dozen cameras feed information into a central computer that considers such things as the vehicles speed, direction, roadway conditions and obstacles as well as the same information for other cars in its proximity, it uses military grade GPS, which is accurate to within inches, accelorometers, gravity meters, and a gyroscope is synchronized with the information to provide a rich field database that can include such information as the actual laws for the location where the vehicle is operating. Traffic conditions, weather and even construction updates are also incorporated into the cars operation.
Drivers are identified through several available methods, fingerprint, voice recognition, iris scan, ID card, etc. before even being permitted to turn on the car. A driver using one of the new vehicles operates the car in much the same manner but encounters restrictions when attempting to circumvent various traffic regulations. Speeding is prevented by a set of restrictions imposed when the car is operated in a legal roadway. A driver may drive under the speed limit but may not exceed it. Pressing the accelerator results in no increase in speed and a dashboard warning of the legal limit permitted. Passing is permitted, the driver presses a button that briefly permits an increase in speed, but too much use of the feature results in its cancellation. Full stops are required at all instances such as stop signs, red lights, etc. and dashboard warnings are triggered when attempts are made to circumvent these as well. The range of regulations that the new system takes into consideration are comprehensive and include things like requiring the use of a turn signal when changing lanes. The ability to report other drivers is incorporated into the system using the cars onboard camera system and a built in feature enables law enforcement to disable the vehicle remotely.
Geico and Progressive were interested in participating in the new technology for its possibilities in enhancing vehicle safety. Progressive has made available a computer linked monitoring device that plugs into the auto’s data port and collects information about a drivers habits to be used to formulate an appropriate rate for its customers. And Geico has had a long standing cooperative program with the Ford Motor Company to share information that could result in safer vehicles.