Get ready to see into the dark (Sort of)

Ford has developed a new nighttime pedestrian detection system and will introduce it on the 2018 F-150 pickup, along with the 2018 Mustang and European-spec 2018 Fiesta. The system is designed to help drivers better detect people walking along the roadside in low-light conditions. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the European Road Safety Observatory show that pedestrians are far likelier to be hit at night. While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why, Ford is taking logical steps to help reduce the problem.

The system works by processing information from the bumper-mounted radar system and the windshield-mounted camera. That info is digitally compared against an onboard database of “pedestrian shapes.” Should the system detect what it believes is a person, an audible tone and visual warning light alerts the driver to danger. Should the driver not take action and the system detect an imminent impact, it will autonomously activate the brakes.

The Nighttime Pedestrian Detection System will be an available option for 2018, though it will likely become standard on high trim levels soon after. In the years to come, expect to see such technology incorporated within every vehicle’s autonomous driving system.

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Why It Matters

Vehicles are becoming evermore complex these days in the quest for safety. Ford’s new pedestrian detection system is hardly the first system of this kind, but it’s the first to be incorporated into the full-size pickup segment. Expect General Motors and Ram to follow suit. GM has the potential to be the next automaker with levels of autonomous driving in a pickup. The next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are on their way, expected for the 2019 model year. Ram is also expected to have an all-new pickup for the 2019 or 2020 model year.

Regardless of which automaker wins this safety arms race, the benefits will be felt by everyone. It’s great to see pickups leading the charge in pedestrian safety. On another note, here is also the place where I’d insert a joke about the Ford Mustang needing a Pedestrian Detection system – you know – for those Cars & Coffee meets with onlookers lining the streets. Ford had to mitigate the number of broken legs somehow…

What do you think?
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