Ford Motor Company continues its safety leadership with the introduction of an industry-first Roll Stability ControlÔ (RSCÔ ) technology on several of its sport utility vehicles. The company's new patented RSCÔ system is now available as a segment exclusive technology for the 2004 Lincoln Aviator and Lincoln Navigator.
RSCÔ also will be available on the Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition, and Mercury Mountaineer in the 2005 model year.
Unlike any other system on the market, Ford Motor Company's new RSCÔ system offers added assistance to the driver in maintaining vehicle control during extreme maneuvers if a rollover is likely. The system automatically takes additional counter measures to reduce the risk of rollover.
A team led by Todd Brown of Ford Global Core Engineering, Brakes and Chassis Controls Department, developed the RSCÔ system to reduce the occurrence of rollover accidents. The RSCÔ technology grew out of the team's experience designing the yaw control system (AdvanceTracÔ ) introduced on the 2000 Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-type.
Typical electronic stability control systems are designed to control yaw or skidding only. Ford has coupled its RSC™ and AdvanceTrac™ systems to provide even greater safety benefits for the customer. Ford's RSCÔ technology is an active stability enhancement system that significantly builds upon existing yaw stability control systems in the market today. RSCÔ adds another dimension of advanced technologies and software to monitor and control a vehicle's roll motion during extreme maneuvers. The RSCÔ system continuously calculates if the vehicle may be approaching a situation where rollover is probable and takes action to help prevent rollover. Ford is the first automaker to develop and patent a new Roll Stability ControlÔ system. Ford's new RSCÔ feature first debuted on the 2003 Volvo XC90.
"Ford is bringing to market tomorrow's safety technology today," Brown explains. "We're very pleased to offer our customers the benefits of this new RSCÔ technology, but Ford won't stop here. Where customer safety is concerned, our commitment is to continuously develop and implement innovative solutions."
In Ford's RSCÔ system, a gyroscopic sensor is included that determines the vehicle's body roll angle and roll rate. Along with Ford developed algorithms embedded in advanced software, this information is used with other vehicle sensors' inertial information including yaw rate, lateral and longitudinal accelerations to monitor the vehicle's roll stability condition approximately 150 times per second. If the vehicle approaches an unstable situation, the vehicle's RSCÔ system is activated: engine power is reduced and/or the brakes are applied to one or more of the wheels as necessary to help regain vehicle stability.
Ford has a significant number of issued and pending patents on the RSCÔ technology. Because of the immediate safety benefits RSCÔ provides, Ford is already making it available to other companies and automakers via licenses.
Ford is a leader in developing emerging technologies such as Advanced TracÔ and RSCÔ . Ford first introduced AdvanceTracÔ in August 2000 and is currently available on a number of Ford Motor Company products.
While safety belts are the single most important system for reducing the risk of injury for vehicle occupants, other safety features in the Lincoln Navigator, Lincoln Aviator, Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition and Mercury Mountaineer provide additional occupant protection in an accident.
The Personal Safety System™, which includes dual-stage front air bags, safety belt pretensioners and load-limiting retractors.
The Safety Canopy™ side curtain air-bag system is available, which provides enhanced occupant protection in side impacts and rollovers.
Ford's BeltMinderÔ system, which sounds a chime on and off for several seconds to remind the driver to buckle up.
Explorer, Expedition, Mountaineer models are targeted
By Jeff Plungis / Detroit News Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it would offer anti-rollover technology in its most popular sport utilities, the latest in a series of moves by automakers to improve SUV safety.
Beginning with the 2005 model year, Ford will offer the anti-rollover intelligent braking system on the Ford Explorer and Expedition, and Mercury Mountaineer SUVs.
The technology is currently available on the 2004 Lincoln Navigator and Aviator SUVs. It debuted on the 2003 Volvo XC-90 SUV.
"Our goal when we developed this technology was to make sure the system keeps control in the hands of the driver," said Todd Brown, manager of Ford’s North American brake control systems.
The move comes amid growing concern over rollover crashes and only a week after automakers announced an unprecedented deal to deploy more safety technologies to make SUV-car crashes less deadly.
Rollovers are especially deadly even though they represent a small fraction of all vehicle crashes — about 3 percent. But there are more than 10,000 rollover-related deaths each year, representing about one-third of all passenger vehicle deaths.
Ford’s anti-roll system, developed in coordination with automotive supplier Continental-Teves Inc., employs gyroscopes that determine whether a vehicle is in danger of tipping over. When this happens, an on-board computer adjusts engine power and applies brakes to one or more wheels to bring the vehicle back under control.
Ford’s stability system will not be standard equipment on all five SUV models.
The Volvo XC-90 fared well in an evaluation by Consumer Reports magazine in September 2003. Consumer Reports found the Volvo’s stability system superior to some others offered on comparable luxury SUVs.
David Champion, director of auto testing for the magazine, said the Volvo did well at keeping all four wheels on the ground during the magazine’s aggressive handling test.
"It comes on quickly and firmly," Champion said. "It works extremely well at shutting the vehicle down."
Champion said Ford’s decision to offer the technology on its biggest-selling SUVs would be soon matched by other manufacturers. Automakers are looking for an edge to perform well in a new rollover rating test being implemented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA’s rollover test, involving a "fishhook" turn using computer controls, will be a part of its expanded star-rating system beginning next year. The test was designed, in part, to give better scores to vehicles that employ electronic stability control systems.
"This is a very positive development," Champion said. "We just wish it had happened sooner."
Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said no decision had been made on which versions of the SUVs would include the system as standard or optional equipment. In the 2004 model year, for example, the system was available as standard equipment for the "ultimate" edition of the Navigator 4X2. It was optional on the "luxury" 4X2 and 4X4 models.
Kinley said Ford is considering the anti-rollover technology for additional vehicles, including the Econoline 15-passenger van, but declined to provide details.
General Motors Corp. offers electronic anti-rollover devices on approximately two million vehicles. It offers different systems on performance cars, family sedans and SUVs. For example, it offers an Active Handling system for the Chevrolet Corvette. The StabiliTrak system can be found on models like the Chevy Tahoe, Suburban and Avalanche.
GM is offering StabiliTrak for the first time on its full-sized Chevy Express and GMC Savana 15-passenger vans this year.
DaimlerChrysler AG offers a traction control on its Dodge Durango SUV. None of its Jeep SUVs offers the technology, said Chrysler division spokeswoman Angela Spencer Ford.
"We are working on a number of different rollover systems, including advanced air bags, rollover sensors and other technologies," Ford said. "They will be available on future models."
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