Ford Researching GPS Vehicle Tracking, Safety Features

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Ford has announced that research conducted jointly with Auburn University shows the promise of GPS in enhancing active safety features like stability control. According to Ford’s press release:

Researchers have found potential for a GPS satellite to act as an early warning system that detects when a vehicle is about to lose control and communicate with the vehicle’s stability control systems and other safety features to prevent a rollover or other serious accident…Virtual reality tests show that GPS satellites can precisely monitor a vehicle’s motion, which could improve the speed and effectiveness of electronic stability control systems.

Oh joy! With the government looking into GPS vehicle tracking for taxation purposes, and insurance companies pursuing GPS-dependent pay-per-mile schemes, all Big Brother needs is a good public-friendly pitch for putting GPS in every car. And who can argue with more safety? Alternatively, wouldn’t now be a good time to stand astride history and shout “thanks, but no thanks”?

Really, is it not enough that nearly every car comes with microprocessors which control stability and traction? How necessary is it to have those microprocessors in constant communication with satellites? How much safer can we be?

Most importantly, how will road testers brag about how much better a given car is with the “nannies switched off” if those nannies are only controllable with a satellite code? Thanks, but no thanks.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Tedward Tedward on Oct 15, 2009

    "GPS satellites do NOT receive any signals from your car" absolutely true (and obvious to anyone who's ever used a handheld), but this is so easily combined with a transmittal system that anyone following the insurance and safety Nazi lobbying agenda gets scared. Slippery slope argument or not, they should be. "It is just cheaper. The accuracy is improved by some sort of differential measurement." This is actually my problem with it, I've never seen a GPS result that would lead me to trust the system's ability to measure inches (yaw velocity) or to do so in a timely manner (more to the point). Possibly it could take control of the car's throttle/brakes to ensure a sane corner entry speed, but couldn't a navi system combined with sensors do the exact same thing? I may be wrong, and from what you said about sensor packs I might well be, but I haven't seen it.

  • Luke42 Luke42 on Oct 15, 2009


    GPS satellites can NOT know anything about your car. They have no ability to receive data from you car or to relay data to a 3rd party (big brother or otherwise). All a GPS satellite does is transmit a very high precision clock to anyone who can hear it. That's true, unless you have a system like OnStar which can transmit the position of the car. That's great if your car's been stolen, but it sucks if you're visiting your mistress. I don't have a mistress, but I sure want to be able to take my IT-security hat off when I'm driving my car. My cell phone is bad enough, and I'd rather be driving my car when I'm driving my car.
  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Oct 15, 2009

    this is why I drive cars from the 1980s

  • KGrGunMan KGrGunMan on Oct 15, 2009

    i wonder what this system would think if you started having some drifting fun? come to think of it, that might make you crash when you would have had some nice drift-o action going on. i've started playing games with all the new cars i drive, how many safety nanny lights can i make come on at amount of microprocessors can over come physics. @ cretinx X2! 80's cars FTW at this point i might have to keep my '88 mr2 running forever.