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(Pocket-lint) - The Ford Motor Company is testing a smart driver alert system that could help car owners more quickly identify hazards around their vehicles.

It is using different, artificial sounds, such as footsteps and bicycle bells, and specific speakers placed in the car to alert drivers to both the direction and type of hazard. This could help prevent accidental clashes with pedestrians and cyclists.

FordFord tests in-car smart sounds to alert drivers to real-life hazards photo 1

"Today’s warning tones already inform drivers when they need to take care and be vigilant. Tomorrow’s technology could alert us to both exactly what the hazard is and where it is coming from,” said Ford Sync software engineer, Oliver Kirstein.

The system's sensors and software can not only detect when something is nearby but the type of obstacle. It then uses the algorithms to project the correct sound through one of the surround speakers placed in the car's cabin.

FordFord tests in-car smart sounds to alert drivers to real-life hazards photo 3

Ford's tests on Directional Audio Alerts have so far proved to correctly identify the hazard 74 per cent of the time. Footsteps alerts in particular seemed to be effective, with participants responding positively in real-world scenarios on the test track.

Engineers now want to take the test further and are looking to improve the system to include spatial 3D audio for more accurate location plotting.

Writing by Rik Henderson.