In an effort to reduce driver stress and help minimize traffic gridlock, Ford Motor Company is developing two new technologies –Traffic Jam Assist and an advanced version of active park assist for hands-free perpendicular parking.
Traffic Jam Assist
Traffic Jam Assist uses radar and camera technology to help a vehicle keep pace with other vehicles in traffic and provide automated steering control to stay in the current lane.? This feature should reduce driver stress and potentially improve vehicle flow.
?Drivers spend more than 30 percent of their time in heavy traffic,? said Joseph Urhahne, engineer with Ford Research and Innovation. ?Traffic Jam Assist could help make traveling through congestion a more relaxing experience and, by keeping pace with the flow of traffic, potentially help relieve road congestion.?
Individual simulation studies have found that where 25 percent of vehicles on a stretch of road?are equipped to automatically follow the traffic ahead, journey times can be reduced by 37.5 percent and delays reduced by 20 percent ? saving millions of gallons of fuel each year and reducing the driving stress.
Traffic Jam Assist has the potential to follow the traffic ahead while maintaining lane position in environments where there are no pedestrians, cyclists or animals, and where lanes are clearly marked.
Many of the sensing technologies needed for Traffic Jam Assist are already available on current Ford models including Focus, Escape and Fusion.
The developing technology would be able to respond to changing traffic situations ahead and communicate any developments to the driver. Traffic Jam Assist would also incorporate features to help ensure the driver remains alert and in contact with the vehicle controls, even when the system is active. It could also be overridden at any time.
Ford engineers also plan to expand the active park assist technology.? The technology currently ?helps drivers to parallel park without touching the wheel. ?A new added feature will add perpendicular parking to the system.
The enhanced system would harness the technologies introduced with active park assist. It uses ultrasonic sensors to identify suitable parking spaces, for width rather than length, and then steers the vehicle into them using electric power-assisted steering.
Active park assist is activated by pressing a center console button. When a suitable space is detected, the system will advise the driver to stop with an audible and visual warning. The driver will then be told to put the vehicle into reverse gear and operate brakes and clutch, if needed, while the car controls the steering wheel.
Perpendicular parking functionality would use the vehicle?s rear parking distance control sensors to monitor possible obstructions not seen by the driver when backing into the space.
Where there is insufficient space to complete the maneuver in one attempt, the system might ask the driver to shift the vehicle into forward and reverse as necessary. Once the vehicle is perfectly parked, the driver gets a finish signal.