The feminine intellect behind the 2013 Ford Fusion Driver-Assist Technology

Early orders for the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion show roughly one in six new buyers are opting for the Driver Assist Package, that incorporates the Blind Spot Information System with Ford’s Lane-Keeping System, auto high-beams and rain-sensing wipers. This week Torque News talked with two women behind the technology once found only in premium vehicles.

Rebecca L. Seiler is an Active Safety Product Engineer for Ford who after school, joined the graduate program for new hires, allowing relatively free movement among departments to find their niche. She found technology moving towards controlling electro-mechanical systems and the possibility of a career developing software to autonomously control vehicle functioning. Finding this of great interest, she returned to college for a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, focused on Control Systems. When she to returned to Ford, she joined the advanced engineering Active Safety department and began writing algorithms for Ford's collision warning and mitigation technologies.

Jennifer D. Shaw is the Driver Assistance Electronics Supervisor at Ford Motor Company was hired after earning her Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. She began by working in the Body and Security Electronics (BSE) department on projects concerning remote vehicle entry and engine immobilization. In a year, she moved into the Sustainable Mobility Technologies unit, working on the Focus Electric before returning to BSE and the Driver Assistance Electronics department.

Seiler writes algorhythmic codes to control advanced safety systems. Shaw has been working with sensors and the systems they control, like blind spot vehicle detection, parking assistance and rear proximity alerts.

Ford recently commissioned a survey by Penn Schoen Berland of American drivers over 18 to assay the prevailing attitude on Driver Assistance technology.

“We found the drivers we talked to were definitely inclined toward features that provided real practical benefits by alerting them to potentially hazardous situations they may have missed,” said Billy Mann, managing director of Penn Schoen Berland. “For them, assistance features that increase awareness ranked high among their priorities.”

Ford is taking the lead in making these advanced technologies available in mainstream vehicles. They have developed a suite of Driver Assistance technologies to mitigate the risks of driving – features previously only available in cars costing $50 to $60K or more. A lot of credit for that goes to these two feminine intellects and their hard work.

Torque News inquired how much of their time was devoted to system development as compared to systems testing?

“The majority of my job consists of developing software algorithms and testing them to ensure we've met the requirements of the system,” Seiler replied. “Our development process is flexible enough to change the code and/or calibrations directly on the test track and see immediate results.”

“We first start with a concept of what we would like the system to do,” she added. “In the development of an active safety feature we are juggling customer wants, internal requirements and government regulations. It may take weeks to develop the first level of code. Once we have a version of code that meets our initial requirements, we have the tools to evaluate the functionality both in simulation and in the vehicle. Our test vehicle set-up allows communication with the rest of the vehicle systems. This provides a framework to fully test our feature and the interaction with other systems in the vehicle.”


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