We‘ve all been there. You park your car by a shopping centre just to find a shopping cart rammed into its side a few hours later. And you don‘t know who did that – maybe some child was running around carelessly or maybe it was just wind moving an unattended cart. All we know it‘s super annoying and can be costly, but Ford thinks that automotive technology could prevent this kind of heartbreak.
Actually, it’s not just your car – it is also your legs. Children in grocery stores become crazy and run around with shopping carts like drunk drivers. You can get hit by one of these in a second – children are too short to see where they are going full speed. They are always hitting shelves and neatly stacked pyramids of cans or fruit. Their parents are trying their best, but accidents happen, just like on the road. That is why Ford created a prototype shopping cart with emergency braking technology.
Emergency braking systems are common in cars. They consist of a series of radars, sensors or cameras watching the road ahead. Once an obstacle emerges, driver is notified by a sound signal and some blinking lights in the dashboard. If he does not react, the car stops by itself, preventing the collision. This technology is very effective at lower speeds in the cities, where drivers are often distracted. Ford engineers put sensors and automatic brakes in a shopping cart called “Self-Braking Trolley”. A spinning sensor in the front watches the surroundings and notifies the computer about it. If there is danger of collision, shopping cart stops immediately, preventing bruised shins and scratched cars.
Of course, “Self-Braking Trolley” would never go into production. It requires power and is probably way more expensive. Also, the problem itself could be solved by mounting thicker bumpers on shopping carts and limiting sugar in children’s diet. However, this is a good way for Ford to showcase and explain an interesting piece of automotive technology. Anthony Ireson, director, Marketing Communications, Ford of Europe, said: “Pre-Collision Assist technology can help our customers avoid accidents or mitigate the effects of being involved in a collision. We thought that showing how similar thinking could be applied to a shopping trolley would be a great way to highlight what can be a really useful technology for drivers”.
Smart shopping carts are coming, but they would include scales and calculators before they included any sort of smart technology or brakes.