Ford is the latest automaker to announce its version of an intelligent congestion-reduction system aimed at reducing driver stress levels as well as lessening point-to-point travel times. Seen as a potential mid-term fix, Traffic Jam Assist employs many of the same sensing technologies already available on various Ford vehicles, including various radar and camera packages.
The goal of Traffic Jam Assist is to help a vehicle keep pace with others in traffic in a manner that would reduce the potential for gridlock by providing automated steering control as well as keeping tabs on and notifying the driver of changing traffic situations ahead. Although it could be overridden at any time, Traffic Jam Assist also will incorporate features to help the driver stay alert and in in full contact with the vehicle controls. The potential payback? Ford cites individual simulation studies showing 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, potentially saving millions of gallons of fuel each year.
Ford also announced that it's working on a variation of its existing park assist system that will offer help for head-in parking as well as for parallel parking situations. This new perpendicular functionality would use the same sensors and basic processes that that assess the suitable length of a curbside spot to check the width of a head-in space and then perform all of the necessary steering functions while instructing the driver when to either shift the transmission or operate the brakes or clutch, as required. The system also would integrate the car's rear Parking Distance Control sensors to ensure an equally safe and successful process if the vehicle was being backed into the chosen spot.