Navigation kit promises easy use
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by Charles Young
• A new navigation system could be on the market within a year if a pilot scheme run by Ford in conjunction with the RAC and BT proves successful.
The Ford Navigation System (FNS) gives visual and vocal directions using an on-board map database, and various sensors including satellite guidance.
"Currently only the area within the M25 is mapped out and it could be one to two years before the rest of the country is on the database," says Mike Plaus, head of sales and marketing for Ford commercial vehicles. "but if this happens and the trial is successful, Ford is keen to market FNS." He believes the cost of the unit will be "about the same as an expensive stereo". Ford is pleased with the accuracy of FNS but says it's still at the planning stage. "The technology could all change within six months but what's important is to be on the ground floor and influence things. I want our designers to incorporate the technology when they design the vehicles," says Plans.
L FINIS was developed in conjunction with Bosch—which could provide an aftermarket version—and is based on research that started five years ago.
The vehicle can be located to within 100 metres via a roof antenna and the satellite-based Global Positioning System, similar to that used by the US military. Once in motion, sensors in the front wheels and a compass combine to
create a pattern which the computer tries to match with roads on its CD-ROM map database. Once a match has been found the vehicle's exact position is known and it can be guided to the pre-selected destination.
FNS is remarkably easy to use. Once you've got the hang of it there's no need to look at the monitor as the female voice— chosen for optimum clarity— provides guidance at every =rt. If you miss an instruction it can be repeated at the touch of a button and if you take a wrong turning the system adapts to get you back on track.
The actual programming of the destination is a little fiddly but RAC patrol driver Mark Thomson had no complaints: "It's vet easy to use and gets you there much faster. It's also safer as it stops you having to do U-turns."