Ford Debuts Two Self-Driving Technologies

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Imagine you’re stuck on the highway in rush hour traffic.

All vehicles are at a complete stop, and the fastest you’ve driven in the last 30 minutes has been 5 mph.

You’re angry, your blood pressure is sky rocketing each time you see brake lights flash in front of you, and all you want to do is get to your destination before you lose patience.

If this situation sounds like an absolute nightmare, then Ford Motor Co. may have a solution for you.

Today, Ford engineers unveiled a system that will automate driving during traffic jams. This new feature was designed to help motorists relax when stuck in a gridlock.

The system, Traffic Jam Assist, will use sonar sensors, a camera and radar to keep a vehicle in its lane while responding to nearby traffic conditions, slowing, stopping and accelerating as needed. It could help make traveling through congestion a more peaceful experience by guiding a car through the flow of traffic. This new system could also help relieve road congestion and reduce commuting times. Simulations have found that, if one in four vehicles on the road have the technology to automatically follow the traffic flow, trip times can be reduced by 37.5 percent, resulting in 20 percent fewer delays.

Traffic Jam Assist will be able to respond to changing traffic situations ahead and communicate any developments to the driver. It will incorporate features to help ensure the motorist remains alert and in contact with vehicle controls, even when the system is active. Traffic Jam Assist even has the ability to follow the traffic ahead while maintaining lane position in environments where there are no pedestrians, cyclists or animals.

According to Ford, this revolutionary technology is still in an experimental stage and will be available on several of its models within five years, despite the fact that the Traffic Jam Assist system is currently configured to work only with Powershift dual-clutch transmissions.

In addition to Traffic Jam Assist, Ford also released another prototype today: an advanced version of Active Park Assist. This system parallel parks a vehicle and adds hands-free perpendicular parking.

The Active Park Assist is activated by pressing a center-console button. Then, once a suitable space is detected, the system advises the driver to stopĀ  and put the vehicle into reverse gear. During this time, the motorist will operate brakes and clutch, if needed, while the car controls the steering wheel.

Ford says the parking aid could be introduced on some models next year, although similar technology is available on current models like the Focus and Escape.


About Brittney French

Brittney is a journalist and media relations specialist who lives in St. Louis, Mo. When she's not blogging for Lebanon Ford, she is the author of a women's column and also writes about music, events, and St. Louis sports. Having little knowledge in the automotive industry, Brittney provides valuable insight on cars for those who may be in the same boat. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter @brittfrancois.