News, Young Drivers

Ford develops Drug Driving Suit

Ford has created a unique suit to show young people the dangers of driving under the influence of illegal drugs.

Ford developed the suit together with scientists from the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Germany to simulate some of the effects of drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and MDMA (commonly known as Ecstasy). These include slower reaction time, distorted vision, hand tremors and poor coordination. 

The new Drug Driving Suit has been incorporated into Ford's Driving Skills for Life young driver programme that has provided training to more than 500,000 people around the world since its launch 11 years ago. Young drivers will have the opportunity to experience the suit, and also receive hands-on training covering skills including hazard recognition, vehicle handling and distraction awareness..

"Driving after taking illegal drugs can have potentially fatal consequences for the driver, their passengers, and other road users," said Ford Driving Skills for Life Manager Jim Graham. "We have already seen how the Drink Driving Suit has a dramatic effect on those who wear it behind the wheel, and are confident that the Drug Driving Suit will have a similar impact." 

According to a European study, drivers who get behind the wheel after taking drugs are up to 30 times more likely to be involved in a severe crash.* Despite the risks, one in 10 people say they have accepted lifts from people they believe have taken illegal drugs.**

Like the Drink Driving Suit that Ford last year incorporated into the DSFL programme, the new Drug Driving Suit simulates the effects of reduced mobility, vision and coordination with padding and ankle weights, goggles and headphones. The team also introduced new features that simulate effects that are specific to illegal drug use.

"We know that some drugs can cause trembling hands, so we incorporated into the suit a device that creates just such a tremor," said Gundolf Meyer-Hentschel, CEO of the Meyer-Hentschel Institute. "Drug users sometimes see flashing lights in their peripheral field, an effect recreated by our goggles, while imaginary sounds are generated by the headphones. Additionally, the goggles distort perception, and produce colourful visual sensations - a side effect of LSD use."

Further details about the Ford DSFL program, including training dates and venues, plus how to enrol in the online training academy will be available online.


Bosch and TomTom partner on maps for automated driving

TomTom and Bosch are to collaborate on the development of mapping technology for highly automated driving.

Under the agreement, TomTom is designing the maps, while Bosch is defining the specifications they have to meet. The maps are already being used in automated vehicles Bosch is testing on certain public roads in Germany (A81) and in the United States (I280). 

Maps for highly automated driving differ primarily from those used in current navigation systems in two respects. Firstly, accuracy is significantly higher - down to decimetre precision. Secondly, the map material required for highly automated driving consists of multiple layers. 

The traditional base navigation layer is used to calculate routes from A to B, including the sequence of roads to be driven. The localisation layer uses a novel positioning concept providing highly accurate map data, which the automated vehicle uses to accurately calculate its position within a lane. To do this, the vehicle compares its sensed environment with the corresponding information in the localisation layer. In this way, it can accurately define its position relative to the road and its surroundings. On top of the localisation layer, the planning layer contains not only attributes such as lane divider types, traffic signs, speed limits, etc., but also 3D information about road geometry, including curves and slopes. With the help of this very detailed lane information, the automated vehicle can decide things such as when and how to change lane.

In highly automated driving, safety and comfort depend crucially on map material that is up to date. For example, up-to-the-minute speed-limit information has to be available instantly. Only then can vehicles select the best proactive driving strategy. In this regard, Bosch and TomTom rely on several elements and services to keep the map data up to date: the TomTom mapping fleet will continue to be regularly on the road, accurately mapping new roads and routes. And to register recent changes on the roads, such as changed lane configurations or new traffic signs, TomTom and Bosch plan to use feedback from fleets of vehicles equipped with the necessary sensors. Information about changed road conditions captured this way will be transferred to a server, verified, and entered in the digital map database. The updated map will then be fed back to the highly automated driving vehicle, enabling it to see effectively beyond its sensors.

Commenting on the importance of the venture, Bosch board member Dr Dirk Hoheisel said: "Only with high precision maps will automated driving on freeways be possible from 2020." And Jan Maarten de Vries, Vice President Automotive at TomTom, added: "By the end of 2015, we want to have new high-precision maps for automated driving for all freeways and freeway-like roads in Germany." Road coverage will subsequently be extended to the rest of Europe and North America.

For Bosch and TomTom, this collaboration in the area of maps for highly automated driving is an extension of an already existing partnership on Bosch's connected horizon, for which TomTom also provides dynamic map information via their real-time service backend - albeit without any localisation layer.