Ford's answer to a parent's nightmare: The self-braking shopping trolley

Car manufacturer uses anti-collision system from its cars to prevent supermarket mishaps

26 April 2019 - 12:41 By Motoring Reporter
For children who use supermarket aisles as racetracks, Ford presents the anti-crash trolley.
For children who use supermarket aisles as racetracks, Ford presents the anti-crash trolley.
Image: Supplied

Anti-collision systems have been available in cars for a little while, and now they’re coming to a different kind of wheeled conveyance: shopping trolleys.

Ford is experimenting with a concept trolley that automatically brakes when it senses it’s about to hit another object inside the supermarket and its parking lot – a situation that is especially likely to occur when a child is pushing the trolley.

“When it comes to raising the blood pressure, for parents, the weekly shop is right up there with getting the kids to bed and meal times. And while toddler meltdowns and trips to the sweet aisle are trying, few moments can be more worrying than seeing your child careen off at high speed on a supermarket trolley,” says a Ford press release.

Now the Blue Oval has come up with a way of taking the stress out of that situation – taking inspiration from the means by which new car technology helps drivers to avoid accidents on the road. 

Available in a number of vehicles today, including many Fords, pre-collision assist technology uses cameras and radars to detect vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in the road, and automatically applies the brakes if the driver doesn’t respond to warnings.

The Self-Braking Trolley uses a sensor to achieve a similar outcome – to scan ahead for people and objects, and automatically apply the brakes when a potential collision is detected.

“Parents often dread supermarket shopping because they are trying to get a job done and kids just want to play,” said parenting expert Tanith Carey, author of What's My Child Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents.

“Children love to copy adults and experiment with feeling more in control. When they push a trolley, to their minds, it's like they are behind the wheels of a car – with long, wide supermarket aisles as their racetrack.”

Just a prototype for the time being, the Self-Braking Trolley is part of Ford’s experimentation with automotive expertise that can be used to solve the day-to-day problems we face.

“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,” said Anthony Ireson, director, Marketing Communications, Ford of Europe.