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Virtual reality engineering drives innovative vehicles and services, says Ford

AvantiKumar | Sept. 19, 2014
Ford's Malaysia based Veemala Rethinasamy: It’s an exciting time for Ford in Asia Pacific, especially in Malaysia, as we continue to offer innovative vehicles, technologies and services.

Ford’s SYNC 2 imodified 

Photo - Ford's SYNC 2 in-car connectivity system, now benefits from an 8-inch color touchscreen.


The Ford Motor Company has recently displayed in the Asia Pacific region, vehicles for more sustainable, smarter, safer driving, built using virtual engineering and other technologies, said the automotive giant.

"It's an exciting time for Ford in Asia Pacific, especially in Malaysia, as we continue to offer innovative vehicles, technologies and services that our customers want and value," said Veemala Rethinasamy, sales and marketing director, Malaysia, Ford Motor Company.

"Our vision is not only to create the smartest, safest driving experience but also to make those innovations available to all," said Rethinasamy, commenting on Ford's' Innovations for Millions event held in Melbourne recently which showed advanced technologies and affordable, safety features.

These included the world's first Rear Inflatable Seatbelt, Ford's Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert, and Active City Stop, she said. In addition, innovative driver awareness tools like the Drink Driving Suit were demonstrated as well as Active Park Assist.

The company's range of high-tech EcoBoost engines, multi-material lightweight vehicle components and the latest generation of Ford's in-car connectivity system, SYNC, were also on show.

Ford's FiVE lab in Melbourne houses engineers and designers who collaborate in real time with other Ford teams worldwide, she said. The new lab has enough space for "a virtual walk-around of Ford's largest vehicles, giving designers and engineers the chance to experience in-development cars much like a consumer would on the showroom floor."

Veemala Rethinasamy - Ford modified 

Photo - Veemala Rethinasamy, Sales and Marketing Director - Malaysia, Ford Motor Company.

 Virtual modelling

Rethinasamy said Ford has virtual reality facilities in the United States, Germany, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Australia. These centres are part of Ford's virtual engineering processes that use immersive environments and advanced computer-aided engineering to accurately model everything from the whole vehicle to minute details before building prototypes.

She said virtual modeling impacted everything from aerodynamics to safety and aspects of the human-machine interface, and assisted designers and engineers to optimise systems and components earlier in the development process - resulting in prototype vehicles that are much closer to a finished product.

Rethinasamy said Ford's Enhanced Active Park Assist allowed hands-free parking in both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. The system will scan for suitable spots, and when a parking space is found will manage the steering - requiring only shifting, acceleration and brake input from the driver.

Urban drivers will be able to avoid low-speed collisions with Active City Stop, which uses a forward-facing infrared sensor to monitor conditions at speeds below 30 km/h and applies the brakes to avoid crashes. She said that the next generation of this technology - an Enhanced Active City Stop - will monitor and manage emergency braking of speeds up to 50 km/h.

The company also showed the latest version of its SYNCH in-car connectivity system, which now has an 8-inch color touchscreen, together with new features such as enhanced voice recognition capabilities to allow drivers to stay connected while keeping their eyes on the road. For example, a driver can ask the system to search for nearby restaurants by saying 'I'm hungry.'

Other features at the event included Ford's radar-based system,  Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross-Traffic Alert, which detects vehicles in the driver's blind spots, giving them peace of mind on the road and when parking.

Ford also showed its 'Drink Driving Suit', a tool used to demonstrate how much more difficult driving becomes after drinking alcohol.

 EcoBoost engines

Ford's EcoBoost engines, which form the baseline of the company's sustainability plan for more fuel-efficient, affordable vehicles, have received a strong welcome from customers, said  Phil Fabien, global engine engineering, Ford Motor Company.

"In the first half of the year, EcoBoost sales have skyrocketed 120 per cent in Asia Pacific," said Fabien. "When our customers get into an EcoBoost vehicle, they're saving money on fuel and making an impact on fuel consumption and emissions. The popularity of these vehicles shows how hard Ford is working to bring affordable and proven sustainable technologies to Asia Pacific."

EcoBoost engines can be found in 10 models in Asia Pacific, with plans to increase that number to 20 by mid-decade, he said. Last month, Ford's three-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost garnered the International Engine of the Year for the third time.

Shedding weight through lighter materials, better design and lightweight components also allowed Ford to offer a high-performance and fuel-efficient package, he added. The door panels of the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus, for example, contain 84-92 per cent recycled wood fiber, which reduces the weight of the doors by 15 per cent.

"From virtual reality engineering and manufacturing to Ford's driver assist features and sustainable technologies like EcoBoost, it's a bold and exciting time for everyone at Ford and our customers, and we look forward to continuing to share what comes next," Rethinasamy added.


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