New "curve control" system could mitigate cornering accidents

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Ford is to roll out a new technology that can slow its vehicles during cornering, the automaker announced June 28.

Curve Control, which will come as standard on the 2011 Ford Explorer and will be deployed to 90 percent of Ford's North American portfolio by 2015, senses whether a vehicle is approaching a corner too fast and can intervene to stop the driver losing control.

The system uses onboard sensors combined with software that can reduce engine torque and apply four wheel braking automatically, slowing the vehicle by up to 10 mph (16 km/h) in around one second.

This crucial intervention makes the car safer during cornering such as freeway on- and off-ramps and sharp bends, by bringing it to a speed that the driver can more easily control.

Ford estimates that 50,000 accidents every year in the US are caused by drivers entering tight corners too fast.

The automaker says that the system runs calculations based on a variety of inputs such as steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, yaw rate and wheel speed around 100 times per second to keep the vehicle on a safe trajectory.

Curve Control is an evolution of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems which reduce the speed of individual wheels to reduce the risk of skidding; these were first introduced by Mercedes Benz and BMW and are now commonly found on new vehicles.

Safety experts estimate that ESC systems reduce crashes by up to a third, particularly on SUVs (such as the Ford Explorer) with a high center of gravity, which are popular in the United States but harder to handle than smaller vehicles.

As a result, ESC will be mandatory for new vehicles in Canada from 2011, the US from 2012 and Europe from 2014.

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