Ford Developing Self-Driving Traffic Jam and Self-Parking Technologies

By Jacob Brown | June 26, 2012
Ford is hedging bets on its future technologies that you're not particularly a fan of traffic jams. Ford is also hedging its bets that they're only going to get worse. That's why it's in the development stages of Traffic Jam Assist, a technology that adapts its already existing active park assist, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping aid to automatically keep a vehicle in its lane and grind it down to a halt in heavy stop-and-go driving. Think of it as a slow-speed active cruise control. "Drivers spend more then 30 percent of their time in heavy traffic, says Joseph Urhahne, a Ford research engineer. "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." Running simulations, Ford says with just a quarter of the vehicles on the road with Traffic Jam Assist, it could reduce drivers' trip times by 37.5 percent and reduce delays by as much as 20 percent. It would also reduce driver stress levels, pending you believe letting your car drive you around in traffic without your inputs isn't stressful. Here's a demonstration of how it works:

But that's not all Ford is doing. Oh no, the automaker is going much further to make car convenience technologies more integrated with your driving experience. Also on Ford's docket of the future is automatic parking technology that takes its current parallel parking assist technology and turns it sideways. Using the same radar-based sensors, the system can read when there's an open spot large enough to accommodate a car. From there, it will tell the driver to drive beyond the spot and then instruct whether to pull forward or in reverse.

The park assist will then back the car into the spot, giving the driver a "finish" signal when it's done.

Ford hasn't announced when it plans to introduce the traffic jam or more advanced park-assist technologies, but seeing as the automaker already has most of the sensors needed built into their cars already—even more basic models like the Focus—it's likely to only be a matter of a few years.

Source: Ford