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Ford, Mobileye Push New Car Safety Tech

8/10/2009 02:52:19 PM Eastern

New York - Ford and Mobileye
are aggressively pushing driver safety, with Ford delivering crash warning
safety features into its mid-priced car class for the first time and Mobileye
offering more features at the $900 price point for aftermarket retailers.

FordAdaptive cruise control and crash-warning systems are features found
mainly on luxury cars, but are now available as options, along with blind spot
detection,  on the 2010 Ford Taurus and
may be heading for the most basic Ford vehicles.

Ford global electrical and electronics systems director Jim
Buzcowski said at a press event Thursday, "We want to make driver-assist safety
features available across all vehicle lines."

iSuppli analyst Jeremy Carlson said Ford is the only car maker to
offer both adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection on a mid-priced
car.

In the aftermarket, Mobileye just added features to one of the
lowest-priced crash-warning/lane-departure warning systems to be sold through
car stereo retailers. The new C2-170 is shipping now for $899.

Skip Kinford, CEO of Mobileye, said he sees 2011 and 2012 as
pivotal years for driver safety devices as they will become "pretty much
standard on a lot of cars," starting with the 2011 model year. He said he has contracts
signed with car companies as proof, as Mobileye also sells OEM safety devices
to General Motors, BMW, Volvo and Peugot.

Ford said it is attempting to "democratize" driver safety technology,
beginning with the 2010 Ford Taurus that shipped late in July. Ford is calling the
$25,170 (base price) Taurus, which also offers the Sync radio with traffic
alerts, its "technology flagship."

One Taurus safety option package at $1,200 includes adaptive
cruise control, which uses 76GHz radar to track the car in front of you. It
automatically slows down the car to adjust to traffic flow and resumes to your
preset speed when traffic picks up.

This same package also gives you a "collision warning" if you are
closing in on the car in front of you too quickly and the system detects a
crash is imminent. The system then also preps the brakes by moving them closer
to the disc.  Ford said in many crashes,
drivers fail to depress the brakes fully. In addition, reducing the impact
speed by 5 mph creates a 25-times reduction in the amount of energy in a crash,
it said.

Another $2,000 option package includes cross-traffic alert that
uses 24GHz radar to help you back out of a parking space by alerting you if a
car is about to pass behind your vehicle.

The package also includes blind-spot detection, which uses radar
to detect if an object is in the car's blind spot and indicates this through a
small light on the side mirror. Users also get a Sony sound system and other
features in the package.

As for Mobileye, its new C2-170 offers four functions. It issues
a warning if you are drifting outside your lane unintentionally (if you don't
have your signal light).

It also reads out the distance between your car and the car in
front and warns if you are following too closely.

The third function is forward-collision warning. "The processing
power of our chip calculates the closing rate of your vehicle and the vehicle
in front of you. If it determines there's going to be an imminent contact, it
gives you a loud beeping" and shows an icon on the display, said Kinford.

The device can also help guard against minor fender benders at up
to 2 mph. If you are at a stop sign and start drifting because you're reaching
down to get your Diet Coke, the system will alert you, he said.

Mobileye's C2-170 consists of two components - an approximate
2-inch display that sits on the dash or windshield and a small camera that
mounts behind the rear view mirror. The camera also contains the processor
chip.

The C2-170's camera "sees" at a rate of 20 fps, which is 20 times
greater than the human eye. It then applies algorithms to determine the
likelihood of a crash and provides a warning two seconds prior to impact.

Ninety percent of all rear-end collisions can be prevented with
1.5 seconds of advanced warning, according to a Daimler Benz study, said
Kinford.

Mobileye said it is in discussions with U.S. insurance
companies regarding offering discounts for those who install the equipment.

iSuppli said OEM
car safety devices
will rise by more than three-fold to 56.3 million units
in 2013, up from 17.3 million in 2008. This represents a compound annual growth
of 26.6 percent.

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