New In Safety: Ford 'Surveillance Mode' Locks Car Doors When People Approach

July 22, 2013

Are we imagining things, or are automakers really stepping up to the plate when it comes to safety technology? It seems as if every other day, another company debuts an upgraded adaptive cruise control or a new pedestrian-detection system -- or an animal-detection system, for that matter. 

Mind you, we're not complaining. There are still over 30,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. each year, and if these new technologies can reduce that number without affecting our ability to enjoy a good time on (and off) the road, we're all for them.

The latest safety innovation comes from Ford. According to Detroit News, it's called "Surveillance Mode", and it was developed in partnership with Intermotive (PDF).

Surveillance Mode makes use sensors embedded in the rear bumper of a vehicle. When those sensors detect a someone approaching the vehicle too closely, the system automatically locks the car's doors and rolls up any open windows. (FYI, it can be disabled in areas with lots of pedestrians around.) There's also a backup camera, which projects images onto a car's rearview mirror so that the driver can keep an eye on things behind her.

Surveillance Mode is current being tested on police cars, which is smart for at least two reasons. First, police are frequently targeted by lawbreakres. The number of incidents involving criminals stepping up to police cars, trying to intimidate officers -- or worse -- is almost too high to count. 

Second, due to budgetary constraints in many municipalities, police officers now patrol alone rather than in their traditional pairs. Instead of four eyes surveying the landscape, they're reduced to two. Surveillance Mode helps make up some of the difference. 

Surveillance Mode isn't terrifically expensive: as a stand-alone option, it's around $250. Though it's currently limited to police vehicles, it's widely expected that the technology will roll out to everyday consumers soon. 

Is this the sort of thing you'd spring for on your own vehicle? Would it make you feel safe? Or would it just make you (more) paranoid? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[h/t John Voelcker]

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