Ford is developing an automated traffic jam assist system that will enable its vehicles to automatically keep pace with traffic in an effort to reduce gridlock and driver stress.
Employing the existing technologies of active park assist, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping aid and Ford’s PowerShift transmission, the system uses radar and camera technology to help a vehicle keep pace with others in traffic as well as provide automated steering control to stay in the correct lane.
Ford chief technical officer and vice president of research and innovation Paul Mascarenas said, “It’s an undertaking we believe will save time, conserve resources, lower emissions, improve safety and help reduce driver stress.”
Traffic jam assist has been designed to operate in environments where there are no pedestrians, cyclists or animals and where lanes are clearly marked. The system can be overridden by the driver at any time.
Ford’s existing active park assist system is also set to evolve with Ford advancing the technology to enable not only the existing hands-free parallel parking but hands-free perpendicular parking as well. Using ultrasonic sensors to identify suitable parking spaces, for width rather than length, the system will steer the car into the space itself.
Ford will also become the first automaker to offer seatbelt airbags on a mainstream car in Europe when it includes the safety feature as an option on the next-generation Ford Mondeo that is set to go on sale in Europe next year.
The innovative seatbelts combine traditional belts with airbag technology to provide an added level of crash safety protection for rear-seat occupants. Ford says the inflatable rear seatbelts, first introduced on the 2011 Ford Explorer, deploy in 40 milliseconds and spread crash forces over five times more area of the body than conventional seatbelts, helping to reduce pressure on the chest and limit head and neck motion.