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Ford developing Traffic Jam Assist, evolving active parking system

Ford is developing Traffic Jam Assist, an intelligent driving feature that employs technology from the already-available active park assist, adaptive cruise control, Lane-Keeping Aid and the PowerShift transmission to enable a vehicle to automatically keep pace with other vehicles. Ford is also enhancing the current active park assist system—a Ford technology that enables parallel parking without touching the steering wheel—to offer hands-free perpendicular parking as well.

Ford’s early prototypes of the two driver assistance technologies are designed to interact with a vehicle’s surroundings, reduce driver stress and help reduce traffic gridlock.

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.

—Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation

Traffic Jam Assist. Traffic Jam Assist is an intelligent driving technology that Ford is developing for the mid-term (2017+). It 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, 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%.

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 required to deliver Traffic Jam Assist already are 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.

Perpendicular parking. In the near term, Ford plans to further develop its active park assist technology, a popular feature that allows drivers to parallel park without touching the wheel. Ford is adding perpendicular parking to the parallel parking maneuvers already possible.

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 (EPAS).

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 for 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.



In the not too distant future, ground vehicles will be equipped with many essential driver assistance units to effectively increase drivers skill, to better manage the traffic flow, reduce fuel/pollution and/or e-energy consumption, increase BEVs range between charges, drastically reduce incidents/accidents, property damage, injuries and fatalities.

How will to usual objectors be convinced to purchase and use the essential drivers assistance available? Will we have to do what was done with seat belts objectors?


But will it "effectively increase drivers skill" if it allows "hands-free" driving? Remember "practice makes perfect." We learn by doing so if this gives people the option of not doing what they find too difficult we're really in a situation where the cars get smarter while the people get dumber.

OTOH there is only so much you can teach people and no amount of practice ever actually makes perfect. And this will "better manage the traffic flow, reduce fuel/pollution and/or e-energy consumption, increase BEVs range between charges, drastically reduce incidents/accidents, property damage, injuries and fatalities."

Bob Wallace

"How will to usual objectors be convinced to purchase and use the essential drivers assistance available?"

First, it will be more expensive for car companies to produce "with" and "without" models. Car companies will want to include systems in all in order to cut their assembly costs. They might not even put "without" models on the showroom floor, make them 'more expensive special order'.

Second, insurance companies will charge more for "without" cars.

Third, if you're in an accident and you've left your assist/warning features off your level of responsibility will rise. (See #2 - insurance costs.)

And if necessary, following sufficient data that shows that these systems reduce deaths and serious injuries, they may well be mandated just like was done with seat belts and air bags.

I'm not very worried about people losing "drivers skill". We're doing fairly well having lost the skill of starting cars with cranks and use spark advance levers.


ai-vin...automatic landing, turn-offs + gating/parking was introduced 30+ years ago. Pilots did not forget how to fly but the number of bad landings was drastically reduced. Secondly, bad weather landings became a safe and secure reality.

BW...I fully agree with you. Non-users will quickly become as rare as smokers in restaurants, aircraft, buses, cinemas etc.


Car companies seem to be going step by step to a self driving car. They have cars that can drive on Motorways (active lane assist), they have cars that can drive in heavy traffic.

Putting it together to make a car that can drive from A to B entirely is a different matter.

Only Google seem to be up to that one.

Question: how will they wake up a driver who has fallen asleep while "driving" in heavy traffic.

Bob Wallace

How will they wake up sleeping drivers?

With loud buzzers/whatever. And then if the driver does not take over the car will pull to the side of the road and stop.

The car might even call paramedics/emergency responders in the event that something has happened to the driver.

Bob Wallace

Let me add that I am someone who has loved to drive for close to 60 years. (I started driving around the farm before I was 10 and on country roads when I was 12. You could get away with it 'back then'.)

But I'm not loving it so much anymore. Driving has largely become boring. City traffic, highway traffic - I'm all for letting the car do that boring stuff.

Red Bluff to Sacramento - I'd rather watch a movie....


I can see governments mandating the assist on new vehicles because of the improvements in road congestion.  Who in their right mind would continue to accept the burden of time wasted in traffic when almost 40% of it can be eliminated with technology at just 25% penetration?


Harvey, I'm not saying this isn't a good thing, it will reduce accidents and fuel waste, but that isn't the same as 'effectively increasing drivers skill.' Drivers may be able to maintain their skills but it will be inspite of this tech not because of it.

Pilots are another matter, there's a lot more training involved in getting a pilot's certification than a driver's licence. In the simplest terms, a pilot certificate is issued for life unless it is revoked or suspended. However the certificate is not the only thing required to operate as a pilot. Medical certification and recent experience are the keys to determining eligibility to operate as a pilot.

Medical certificates expire on intervals of 6 months, 2 years, or 5 years depending on the level of certification held. And "recent experience" in practical terms means a flight review. The minimum experience to fly as a solo pilot would be a biennial flight review, required to be one hour of flight and one hour of ground instruction performed by a certified flight instructor, to be completed by the end of the 24th month following the last one. (US data)

I don't see the DMV starting up a program to retest drivers every 2 years to make sure they haven't lost their skills, do you?

HarveyD may have justified the maximum drivers assistance for most of us who haven't been fully tested for years.

Eventually, it would be rather easy to add a testing/training module to certify all drivers. Those who failed should go back for further training.

Road vehicles kill many times more people than pilots but their driving skills are not checked often enough.

Future car drivers electronic assistance should include continuous driving skill monitoring and basic re-testing. That way, many incapable-dangerous drivers could be taken out and/or sent for compulsory re-training. The others would be safer.

Bob Wallace

What skills are you afraid drivers will lose?

When we arrive at the point where cars are totally self-driving people will need no driving skills.

Between now and then we will maintain the skills necessary to do what the car can't do because we'll be doing them.


At 70+(and every 5 years thereafter) we have to pass a medical and eye exam to qualify for a renewed driver's license. Anybody who has reached 10 demerit points has to do the same to get a 4-year restricted pink license.


That's because you're Canadian, Harvey.  USAnians need to worry about that subspecies called Floridians, which can appear anywhere without warning and have behind-the-wheel habits which range from outré to dangerous.


Beside over speeding (up to 100 mph) on Highway 95, I had no problem to deal with Florida traffic but my patience was taxed at times with 95+ years old semi-blind 10 mph drivers.

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