You glance away for a second, then suddenly find that you are dangerously close to an accident.Engineers at Ford want to reduce the number of distracted driver accidents by creating an auto-steering system.While cars have demonstrated their ability to parallel park, automakers now want algorithms to take over before disaster strikes.

At a Ford test facility in Lommel, Belgium, engineers from a consortium of automakers are testing whether a compact sedan can auto-steer its way around catastrophe.

Armed with sensors that look some 200 meters ahead, the car rolls down the test track at 60 km/h. As the vehicle speeds towards an obstacle, algorithms built into the vehicle can determine whether the driver is reacting. If not, the computer rapidly takes hold of the car, steering left, then right, escaping what could have been a nasty collision.

But programming these features into a vehicle isn’t simple. In the real world, there are a countless obstacles that could accidentally set off an auto-steering system. Challenges like this have led Ford to say that its auto-steering system won’t be available for quite some time. However, the results from Ford’s preliminary tests will be released this year.

Given that automakers are becoming ever more interested in adding autonomous features to their cars, maybe we’ll see autonomous vehicles within a decade.

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