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Mercury offers an early look at its upcoming 2007 crossover vehicle based on the Ford Freestyle with the Meta One concept, while also demonstrating leading edge technologies. The standout feature is the world’s first Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV)-capable diesel hybrid powertrain. Under hood is a twin-turbocharged V-6 diesel engine and an electric motor in the modular hybrid transmission that together produce as much torque as a large V-10 gasoline engine – 431 lb-ft – while providing V-6 fuel economy and exceeding the Tier I emissions standard for NOx emissions by 97 percent. The Meta One also showcases active safety technology, including a Lane Departure Warning that uses a mechanized vision system designed to recognize lane markings and a vehicle's lateral position relative to those markings. It can provide a visual, audible and/or haptic (vibrating) warning to the driver if the vehicle departs from a distinguishable lane without activation of the appropriate turn signal. Another intriguing system called “Collision Mitigation by Braking,” aka CmbB, judges if the car is about to experience a front collision, then applies the brakes if the driver is not reacting appropriately. Developed in cooperation with Volvo, the CmbB system defers to the driver’s judgment if evasive action is taken, making its true safety benefit to buy precious seconds of deceleration in a calculated dangerous situation. While the production vehicle will likely be quite similar to the Ford Freestyle, this concept variation does illustrate next-generation electronic systems that FoMoCo is seriously exploring for future application.


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Mercury Meta One

Mercury Meta One is an advanced research vehicle concept from Ford Motor Company displaying the evolution of automotive design, research and engineering with emerging safety features, personal electronics and the world’s first PZEV diesel hybrid.

"Meta One is a valuable test-bed for advanced technologies allowing us to demonstrate future safety and powertrain technologies that exist only in theory and in laboratories today," said Gerhard Schmidt, Ford Motor Company vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering.
Meta One Design

Mercury Meta One’s name is derived from the Greek word "meta," meaning "transcends" or "goes beyond." In the case of the Mercury Meta One concept, the name connotes the concept's personality, which transcends the expected in a passenger vehicle.

Meta One’s interior provides a "Zen-like" personal experience for its occupants with interior themes that can be customized to individual preferences.

Meta One stretches the distinct sophistication of Mercury’s design DNA by investigating horizontal themes along with the interplay between differing surface treatments. It borrows its contemporary look from the Mariner SUV and Montego sedan.

Mercury will build a new production crossover vehicle in 2007. Meta One explores adaptation of the Mercury design DNA to a crossover and gives a hint of what such a product could represent for the brand.

Advanced Safety Technologies

With a focus on accident prevention, Ford Motor Company is developing safety technologies that warn the driver when a vehicle wanders from its travel lane and even applies the brakes if an accident is imminent. These technologies are featured on the Mercury Meta One, Ford's most advanced scientific research concept vehicle.

Much of the science of automobile safety has focused on passive systems, like airbags, safety belts and vehicle structure that protect occupants during a crash. Ford is researching and applying active safety measures in production vehicles and concepts designed to help prevent or lessen the severity of many accidents.

Lane Departure Warning

Ford's Lane Departure Warning is a mechanized vision system designed to recognize lane markings and a vehicle's lateral position relative to those markings. It can provide a visual, audible and/or haptic (vibrating) warning to the driver if the vehicle departs from a distinguishable lane without activation of the appropriate turn signal.

In the Meta One concept, a right lane departure triggers a vibration to the right side of the driver’s seat; a left lane departure spurs vibration of the left side of the driver’s seat.

In Lane Departure Warning, vehicle position is evaluated by a camera system mounted behind the windshield that measures the lateral distance from the camera's center line to the left and right lane markings. The system works during the day or at night while headlights are in use. Naturally, the system does not warn the driver if the turn signals are used before changing lanes. The system is still under development for conditions without clear lane markings and overall system reliability.

Collision Mitigation by Braking (CMbB)

The Research and Advanced Engineering group of Ford Motor Company, in cooperation with researchers at the Volvo Safety Center, developed Collision Mitigation by Braking or CMbB system fitted to the Mercury Meta One concept to demonstrate how crash severity can be reduced.

Sensors are used to gauge the likelihood of an impending frontal collision. If the driver fails to react to a situation the system determines will result in a collision, the system applies the brakes. This will significantly reduce the impact speed and crash energy. If the driver reacts with full braking, CMbB provides enhanced system response that quickly initiates full ABS braking. Importantly, the system assumes the driver has ultimate authority; it will not interfere with any potential evasive maneuver the driver initiates. The system functions in high speed and low speed situations.

Every mile per hour that a vehicle is slowed before impact reduces the energy of a crash, which in turn, can potentially reduce possible injuries to drivers and passengers.

Ford's CMbB utilizes a camera and radar to sense vehicles on the road ahead and an on-board computer, which determines whether a collision is imminent based on the position, speed and direction of other vehicles. The CMbB system, based on its estimates of collision threat and driver intent, provides driver warning and enhanced brake control when needed. Depending on speed and road factors, the automatic braking can reduce vehicle speed before contact by five miles per hour or more. The radar and camera systems are under development so that the system works reliably in heavy rain, fog and other adverse driving conditions.

"A reduction of even a few mph in the speed of an impact can make a difference," said Priya Prasad, Ford Technical Fellow, Safety Research and Development. "The amount of energy at impact is a strong function of speed, so even a slight reduction in speed offers a significant reduction in force."

Meta One Integrates Personal Electronics

The Mercury Meta One concept showcases an electronics system that integrates the latest level of in-vehicle technologies with a factory-installed interface.

Chief among these technologies is "Wi-Fi," the rapidly growing wireless technology used most often by laptop computers. Meta One has a factory-installed wireless "portal" that can be used to tap into a wealth of information and entertainment services.

In addition, Meta One has the ability to receive streaming video entertainment from the SIRIUS satellite network. Passengers in the Meta One can instantly access a range of live video, from cartoons to feature films, through the entertainment system.

The Mercury Meta One concept incorporates three technologies designed specifically to address the ever-increasing pace of change in our lives.

SmartNav Knows the Roads: using next-generation technology to offer real-time traffic data and route guidance.

KeyDA Keeps You Comfortably on Schedule: bringing the almost unlimited personal data of a PDA—from seat position presets to emergency contact lists—in the form of the Meta One’s ignition key.

Reconfigurable Displays Adapt: allowing the driver to size and place instruments to suit preferences and needs.

PZEV-Capable Diesel Burns Renewable Fuel

Designed to be the world’s first Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV)-capable diesel hybrid powertrain, the Mercury Meta One concept not only provides an astounding 431 lb.-ft. of torque but also is 97 percent cleaner than the Tier I emissions standard for NOx. Meta One shows that diesels can potentially meet the strictest emissions standards when combined with modern hybrid and after-treatment technologies.

"As the world’s first PZEV capable diesel, the Mercury Meta One concept shows that advanced technologies that we’re developing promise the potential to deliver diesels that can be as clean as the cleanest gasoline engines," said Schmidt. "The torque of this engine, when combined with the modular hybrid-electric transmission, also provides excellent driving performance."

The Mercury Meta One concept draws its power from a twin-turbocharged V-6 diesel engine and an electric motor in the modular hybrid transmission that together produce as much torque as a large V-10 gasoline engine – with much lower fuel consumption. Combined with an advanced exhaust after-treatment system, the powertrain provides an unprecedented combination of power and purity.

The Mercury Meta One concept’s engine is calibrated to run on a special renewable fuel that minimizes the vehicle’s overall production of carbon dioxide or CO2, a "greenhouse gas" that is a primary contributor to global warming.

In partnership with BP, Ford is exploring the performance of this biomass-sourced diesel fuel. This fuel can be blended with conventional diesel fuel to provide a corresponding reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. Since the fuel comes from biological feedstocks that absorb CO2 during their growth, the fuel is said to close the "carbon loop" because the vehicle’s carbon emissions are offset by the carbon-negative fuel production.

Text and photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company
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