Ford's Prototype Self-Braking Shopping Cart Could Save Cars Everywhere

Illustration for article titled Ford's Prototype Self-Braking Shopping Cart Could Save Cars Everywhere
Photo: Ford

If you care at all about the condition of your car, then you are very used to parking as far away from the shopping cart corral as humanly possible when visiting the grocery store. Even then, sometimes a gust of wind can pick up or a careless person won’t notice their cart rolling away and straight toward your precious vehicle. What then?


Honestly, I’m surprised that it’s taken anyone this long to propose a solution, but Ford has one: A self-braking shopping cart. The cart is currently just in its prototype stages, but it’s modeled after the pre-collision assist systems that are found in modern cars, according to a press release.

Basically, the way it works on a car is that a front-facing camera and a radar are used to detect other cars, pedestrians and cyclists in the road. The brakes are then automatically applied if the driver doesn’t do it in order to avoid a crash.

The cart works in a similar manner by also using a sensor. It scans ahead for “people and objects and automatically apply the brakes when a potential collision is detected.”

Ford’s video makes it seem like it’s only for unmanned carts rolling out of control, but I’d be curious to see if the tech would work even when someone is using the cart.

It would probably be incredible difficult to execute in a real-life supermarket situation. We’ve all been there: It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend. You and everyone else in America is at the store, stocking up for parties, barbecues, dinners and the like. Or maybe it’s just regular grocery store rush hour.

People and carts tend to pack in a lot more closely than normal when the store is busy, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Ford carts figure out if it is about to hit something or just approaching very closely in a controlled manner. I’m pretty sure shoppers won’t like it when their cart panic brakes by mistake.

But as for outside in the parking lot, I’m 100 percent for the self-braking carts. I park in the last spot in the further corner of the parking lot to make sure that no cart might accidentally roll toward me because people are lazy and don’t put them away. Why don’t people put their carts away? It’s very little effort and makes the parking lot a safer and neater place for everyone else.

Illustration for article titled Ford's Prototype Self-Braking Shopping Cart Could Save Cars Everywhere

What I think Ford needs to add to these self-braking carts is a PA system that loudly shames people who don’t put their carts away. If that were to happen, I don’t think we see lose carts so often anymore.

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.



I have a theory that parking near the cart corrals is actually marginally safer than parking far away from it. Why? Because if somebody is close to the corral, they’re more likely to return their cart. When they park far away from the corral, that seems to be when they don’t make the effort.

What I really look for is topography. I want a spot on high ground, so that gravity will cause carts to roll away from my car.