A new project launched by Ford is set to transform smartphones into emergency steering wheels. The automotive manufacturer has filed a patent application for an emergency control system based on racing car video games on mobile phones. It would ensure the safety of the drivers and passengers in autonomous vehicles by giving them back control should there be a system failure.
Ford is working on the design of a system which would enable drivers to take back control of an autonomous vehicle if necessary using a smartphone, and without using the steering wheel or the pedals. This system would be similar to racing games for mobile phones, according to BFMTV.
The passengers of future autonomous vehicles would receive an alert and a recorded message warning them that the driving management system is no longer functioning normally, enabling them to take control of the car with a smartphone and bring it to a halt while waiting for a re-boot or repairs to be carried out.
Telephone synchronised with the wheels
Even though autonomous vehicles are not yet on the streets, Ford has already filed a patent for this smartphone-aided control system, according to Carbuzz. The project is entitled "Non-autonomous modes of driving" and illustrates the ambition of the US automotive giant as they anticipate the problems and solutions linked to the development of autonomy.
Two systems have been designed. The former is inspired by the games Need for Speed and Real Racing, and uses the device’s gyroscope and accelerometer. Once the system is synchronised with the wheels of the autonomous vehicle, this would allow a passenger to turn left or right by moving their telephone intuitively. The second system would provide a virtual steering wheel, with the user merely having to slide their finger around the screen to steer one way or another.
Systems that are easy to implement
In both cases, the system would merely require a smartphone with a touch screen, a gyroscope, an accelerometer and Wi-Fi linked to the vehicle – all functions which are already found on a wide variety of telephones. The future Ford controller would appear to be simple both in terms of the equipment required and its usage, and therefore designed to appeal to the general public, la chaîne concludes.
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