Ford Debuts Edge Concept at 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, Featuring Experimental Automated Driving Technologies

Ford Motor Co. debuted a new concept version of its Edge crossover utility vehicle (CUV) today at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, showcasing experimental automated driving technologies that the automaker says herald features coming in its future mass–produced vehicles — including a self–parking feature that can be initiated from inside or outside the vehicle, and a crash–avoidance system that can take control of steering as well as braking.

Moreover, like any concept car developed for an auto show, the Ford Edge Concept also features styling elements and other technologies that presage future design directions for this model.

Fully Assisted Parking Aid

Building on Ford’s current “active park assist” feature (which automatically finds a parallel parking spot and then steers, brakes and accelerates the vehicle into it), the new Edge Concept’s “fully assisted parking aid” uses ultrasonic sensors to automatically find a perpendicular parking space, and then maneuver the vehicle into it. But it also goes a step further: automatically maneuvering the vehicle out of the perpendicular space. And if that space is particularly tight, the user has the option of activating the parking aid from outside the vehicle with a remote control — waiting as a bystander for the vehicle to pull in to or out of the space.

Of course, the parking aid can also be activated from inside the vehicle, using a push–button controller.

Obstacle Avoidance

A prototype obstacle avoidance system in the Edge Concept utilizes similar sensors and automated vehicle control technology to detect slow–moving or stationary objects ahead in the same lane, warn the driver, and automatically brake and steer the vehicle if the driver doesn’t do either.

Ford says this system is part of an ongoing research and development project at the automaker aimed at refining advanced obstacle avoidance systems.

In its current vehicle lineup, the automaker already offers adaptive cruise control and collision warning with full brake support, which uses radar to detect moving vehicles immediately ahead and brakes if necessary.

Adaptive Steering

The Edge Concept also has technology Ford calls “adaptive steering,” which adjusts the turning radius of the wheels on the ground in response to the driver’s steering wheel input and the vehicle’s velocity. So, for example, at low speeds it makes the road wheels turn more with less turning of the steering wheel, making it easier to pull in to or out of a parking space, Ford says.

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Co.

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Co.

New Design Elements

Other innovations can be seen in the Edge Concept’s design:

  • A new iteration of “active grille shutters” that automatically open and close to maintain the engine’s ideal operating temperature — composed of one panel that slips down from above and two others that slip into place while appearing to “radiate” from the Ford oval logo, Ford says.
  • LED lighting in the headlamps, turn signal lights and the taillamps — forming laser thin headlamps that light up in an uninterrupted, homogenous white display and “crystal cubes” for the high beams; illuminating bright amber turn signal lights through microscopic holes in the bezel of a chrome–appearing piece; and similarly backlighting the taillamps.
  • Unique air curtains and ducting on the lower part of the front fascia that guide the air flow from the front of the vehicle, out through the front wheel wells and down the vehicle sides, Ford says.

A CUV for the World

“The original Ford Edge offered customers in North America a fresh, compelling choice for an accommodating, efficient and safe medium utility vehicle,” said Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of The Americas at Ford in Dearborn, Mich., in a prepared statement. “The next–generation Edge — previewed in the Ford Edge Concept — will build on these cornerstones to create a global vehicle with technology to make life easier, and design and craftsmanship to appeal to customers around the globe.”

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