While Ford has been developing a new collision warning system, they've decided that there are cheaper, safer ways to the R&D than smashing endless piles of cars into one another.

Instead, Ford uses full-sized balloon vehicles—inflatable pretend cars that can be crashed into with no resulting damage (to either the crasher or the crashee). They've been custom made for the company, which is no big surprise since they aren't exactly off the shelf toys (yet).


Each of Ford's dozen or so balloons cost $10,000 and manage to weigh but 40 pounds. When splattered with a bit of metal paint, Ford's collision detection system sees the balloon as any other car to be avoided on the road—and if for some reason the system fails to see anything, well, you have another fun game of car soccer. Hopefully Ford hasn't been scoring too many goals, if you know what I'm saying. [detnews via NewLaunches]