Ford has developed technology that sends a signal from an ambulance, fire engine or police car directly to nearby drivers, so that they will know exactly where the siren is coming from, and how far away it is. 

In the UK alone, in 2015, there were 475 road accidents involving emergency services vehicles. It is thought the technology – that provides to the driver audible and visual alerts in the instrument cluster – could one day even advise drivers on the best course of action to safely get out of the way. 

“Time is precious for emergency services and this technology could help to shave valuable seconds off their journeys by enabling drivers to avoid being an obstruction,” said Christian Ress, supervisor, automated driving Europe, Ford research and advanced engineering. 

Ford will this week demonstrate its emergency vehicle warning technology at the UK Autodrive event, a GBP20m government sponsored trial of connected cars supported by 16 technology and automotive businesses, local authorities and academic institutions. 

Ford is also trialling technology that can alert drivers to potential accidents when they are approaching a crossroads. With intersection collision warning, the car broadcasts its location to nearby vehicles which – if equipped with the same technology – then calculate the risk of a crash. If the risk is high then a warning tells both drivers to slow down or stop. For example, it could alert drivers when a car approaching from another direction has ignored a red traffic light. 

Previously, as part of the trials, Ford showcased systems that warn when cars ahead, which may be hidden by a bend in the road, brake hard; as well as technology that shows how cars can synchronise with traffic lights to ‘ride the green wave’, improving journeys through urban areas. Trials of all four technologies are ongoing in the Coventry and Milton Keynes areas until end of 2018 when UK Autodrive will be finalised.