Ford has announced that it is researching and developing intelligent, next-generation driving technologies that are designed to help address traffic jams and other future mobility challenges, resulting from rapid urbanization and population growth worldwide. The company’s early prototypes of two such technologies, Traffic Jam Assist and an advanced version of its Active Park Assist, are designed to interact with a vehicle’s surroundings, reduce driver stress and help reduce traffic gridlock. Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technical officer and vice president of research and innovation, said, “Developing these technologies is part of the first step in a journey toward a more connected future. It’s an undertaking we believe will save time, conserve resources, lower emissions, improve safety and help reduce driver stress.”
Traffic Jam Assist is an intelligent driving technology the company is developing for mid-term integration, which uses radar and camera technology to help a vehicle keep pace with other traffic and provide automated steering control to stay in the current lane, reducing driver stress and potentially improving vehicle flow. Individual simulation studies have found that where 25% of vehicles on a stretch of road are equipped to automatically follow the traffic ahead, journey times can be reduced by 37.5% and delays reduced by 20%; saving millions of gallons of fuel each year. The system 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.
Ford also plans to further develop its Active Park Assist technology that currently allows drivers to parallel-park without touching the wheel, by adding perpendicular parking to the system. It will use ultrasonic sensors to identify suitable parking spaces, for width rather than length, and then steer the vehicle into them using electric power-assisted steering (EPAS). 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. The system would use the vehicle’s rear parking distance control sensors to monitor for obstructions not seen by the driver when backing into the space.
28 June 2012
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