Tony O'Kane | Aug 14, 2008

Ford has just announced that all Falcon models are now available with a new in-dash satellite navigation system, which in an Australian-first will feature a live traffic monitoring system to inform drivers of upcoming jams, accidents and other delays.

From this month onwards, satellite navigation with the Suna Traffic Channel is available as a $2290 AUD option on every model in the FG Falcon range, including the Falcon Ute, XR6, XR6 Turbo and XR8.

The Suna system operates on the international Traffic Message Channel standard to receive encoded radio transmissions that contain traffic information. The system is capable of describing what kind of delays are occurring along the driver's route (traffic jams, accidents, roadworks, etc), the location of the area affected, the length of the delay and any detour routes available.

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All of this information is then overlaid over the Falcon's seven-inch colour map display, which drivers can customise to show as little, or as much traffic data as they want. To start with, Suna Traffic Channel coverage will be limited to metropolitan Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, with further expansion into Melbourne's surrounding areas due to take place over the next two years.

ford-suna-2 Ford has also become the first Australian manufacturer to update its onboard mapping software with Sensis's Whereis Version 15 map data. The Version 15 data includes greater map coverage of existing areas, as well as the addition of new roads such as Melbourne's Eastlink and Sydney's Lane Cove Tunnel. It also features updated data for fixed speed camera and red light camera locations, and can display pop-up warnings to the driver on approach to these areas.

At over two grand, the updated sat nav package for the Falcon sure seems like an expensive option. Then again, the usefulness of the Suna system to taxi drivers and commuters would provide a tremendous advantage, while the more lead-footed of you out there may find the speed camera warning system paying for itself in a very short time.

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Ford Australia today announced two new technology developments for the FG Falcon range, both of which are the first of their type to be introduced by an automotive vehicle brand in Australia.

Ford is the first car company to offer Suna™ Traffic Channel as an integrated feature on its satellite navigation system, which is available as an option on FG Falcon and selected

FG Falcon Ute models, as well as on the Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) FG Series.

Ford's satellite navigation system will also be the first integrated vehicle system to employ the latest Sensis Whereis® Version 15 map data, which has been upgraded with greater map coverage and content.

"Both of these new technologies are seamlessly integrated into satellite navigation-equipped FG Falcon models, delivering the very latest in convenience features for our customers, as well as extending Ford's technology leadership position," Ford Australia Chief Engineer Electrical, Stuart Taylor said.

"Ford's electrical engineering team has worked closely and collaboratively with the Suna Traffic Channel provider over the past two years to make this exciting new feature a reality for the FG Falcon, which has been designed from the outset to be a technology-capable vehicle platform.

"As the first car company in Australia to offer Suna Traffic Channel in an integrated vehicle solution, we are extremely pleased to be able to provide such relevant and useable technology to our customers from August production onwards."

Suna Traffic Channel connects Ford's satellite navigation system to dynamic road traffic information, assisting the driver to avoid traffic congestion and delays. Traffic information is gathered from a range of sources, including traffic control centres, traffic lights, road sensors and probe vehicles, and then transmitted via an FM broadcast.

Suna Traffic Channel uses the international Traffic Message Channel (TMC) standard to encode traffic conditions and information, and is broadcast using the Radio Data System (RDS).

The satellite navigation system then picks up this broadcast and converts the information into easy-to-understand traffic messages, which are displayed on the seven-inch full colour TFT Interior Command Centre (ICC) screen – mounted high in the car to minimise distraction and maximise safety.

The feature only alerts the driver to messages that are relevant to the vehicle's location or planned route and, if desired, will allow the driver to re-route around the upcoming traffic delay.

Suna Traffic Channel can display information such as how long the delay will be, the cause of the delay and the estimated new arrival time. The traffic information can be displayed on the ICC screen in a number of different ways, depending upon the settings selected by the driver. Refer Attachment 1 for more detail.

With the introduction of Suna Traffic Channel, the satellite navigation system is turned from a tool to find unknown destinations into an interactive, value-adding feature, which can be used everyday and is valuable even on the routes that a driver is familiar with, such as driving to and from work.

As this is new technology for the Australian marketplace, Suna Traffic Channel coverage will initially be available in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, with more launches due for metropolitan areas around Australia in the next 12-24 months.

In addition to the introduction of this dynamic traffic information feature, all FG Falcon satellite navigation systems are now equipped with the latest Sensis Whereis® Version 15 map data (previously V14 maps).

Ford is the first automotive manufacturer to adopt the upgraded map data for an integrated vehicle system, which provides greater and enhanced coverage and content, including:

1. Traffic Message Channel location table for the eastern seaboard (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane)

2. Updated road network to 2008 street directory releases, including new roads such as EastLink in Melbourne, Victoria and the Lane Cove Tunnel in Sydney, NSW

3. The latest red light and fixed speed camera locations Australia-wide, which are displayed via pop-up warnings on the ICC screen when approaching these locations

4. The latest road speed data for most major highways and the Sydney metro area

5. More than 1.1 million kilometres of roads

6. More than 600,000 points of interest

Satellite navigation with Suna Traffic Channel* is available as an option on all FG Falcon sedans, as well as FG Falcon Ute XR6, XR6 Turbo and XR8 models, for the recommended retail price of $2,290.

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