ROME – Imagine being behind the wheel of your car: without having touched anything the vehicle suddenly slows down, warning you that you are crossing a georeferenced area (you read that right). It means that in that portion of the city you cannot go beyond a certain speed limit, and your car not only tells you this, but does the job for you.
Ford has christened this technology Geofencing, because it uses connectivity to create a virtual geographic screen, to build a kind of Indian reservation where everyone goes slow because there are schools, shopping centers and so on. Road signs are no longer needed, pedestrians can walk quietly and even goodbye to fines, which is no small feat given that in Europe speeding fines are the highest in the world (in 21 countries they exceed 680 euros).
“Connected vehicle technology contributes greatly to making everyday driving easier and safer, for the benefit not only of those behind the wheel but of everyone,” explains Michael Huynh, Manager City Engagement Germany, Ford of Europe. “Geofencing can ensure speed reduction where and when needed, to improve safety and create a more pleasant surrounding environment.”
At the moment, however, everything is purely experimental. For the test program which is taking place in Cologne and which will last until March 2023, two Ford E-Transit All Electric are used on different scenarios, such as postal, municipal and public utility services, the sector of the last mile and that of food delivery.
But how exactly does it work? Meanwhile, the trial is the result of a collaboration between the Ford City Engagement team, with local officials in Cologne and Aachen, and Ford software experts from Palo Alto, in the United States. The American engineers, together with colleagues from Aachen, have developed a technology that connects the vehicle to the geofencing system for GPS location and data exchange.
The driver receives information via the dashboard display, with the speed limit flashing on the odometer below the current speed. Based on the georeferenced area, the system, which can be deactivated at any time, acts on the vehicle speed by reducing it automatically.
The most frequently asked question is that driver assistance technologies that guarantee speed limit control already exist: just think of Intelligent Speed Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go.
“The Geofencing system is potentially more flexible and effective than on-board systems – answer the Ford technicians – and could be applied in the future to commercial vehicles and cars of the brand. Once perfected, the system could allow drivers to set their own Geofencing zones even at private depots and facilities, where the speed should not exceed 20 km / h ”.