If there was a prize for most-hyped car in 2012, no doubt the Ford B-Max would be right up here. You’ve read on here a lot of good things about Ford’s little baby that makes its’ debut officially at the Geneva Motor Show that is currently gearing up for its first day tomorrow (8th March), what’s another bit of publicity amongst friends?
So what’s it got now than?
Something called Ford’s Emergency Assistance, which is an all-new Ford technological advancement that helps drivers and other car occupants to make a 999 call in the event of a crash.
And not only does it do that, but it does it in the correct local language based on GPS coordinates from the vehicle, after an accident. The most advanced system of its type, it forms a key part of Ford’s voice-activated in-car connectivity system SYNC, which makes its European debut in the all-new B-MAX.
And it’s already a winner! Emergency Assistance won the “Best Mobile Innovation for Automotive, Transport or Utilities” category at the 2012 Global Mobile Awards, Barcelona. The B-MAX had just became the first car ever to debut at the show and Bill Ford, Ford Motor Company executive chairman, became the first automotive industry leader to deliver a keynote speech.
All good so far, but a quick question before we hear from someone closely connected to the technology itself. By local accent what do they mean? If near Liverpool, does it phone 999 and say “Hey la. We’ve ‘ad a crash like.” And if in the North-East, does it call the operator “pet”, and down South “treacle”?
More seriously, it looks to be an impressive safety feature.
“Ford is delighted to see the potentially life-saving benefits of SYNC with Emergency Assistance recognised by international communications technology experts,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. “Emergency Assistance makes full use of mobile communications technology to deliver an extremely valuable service to Ford customers, free-of charge for the lifetime of their vehicle.”
So, how does this work then?
It’s all linked to the airbag and the vehicle’s emergency fuel pump shut-off. When they are activated after a collision, it sets in motion technology that prompts the vehicle to make an emergency phone call, using an introductory message, through the occupant’s Bluetooth connected mobile phone. It goes straight through to the emergency service operators (rather than a third party) and, by using GPS, can also provide information about where the accident location is.
Whether or not it adds in the phrase “But the accident wasn’t my fault” is not clarified
The technology for the call to the emergency services was developed with the help and input of the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), which aims to ensure a consistently high level of response to 999 emergency number calls across Europe.
“We are pleased that Ford has consulted with the EENA and European emergency call centres in the development of the Emergency Assistance feature,” said Gary Machado, EENA executive director. “We are confident that solutions enabling vehicles to be connected to emergency call centres will contribute to saving lives in Europe.”
And this is all free as part of the customer-upgradeable SYNC platform, making its first European appearance in the Ford B-MAX after appearing on over 4 million cars in the US.
SYNC reads out text messages from compatible mobile phones (Not advisable if you’re having a relationship with someone who is not your partner and in the car when an explicit text comes through!), updates phonebook entries and can be used with iPods and USB flash drives.
The Ford B-MAX is on sale in September and I, for one, am looking forward to that!