Ford works to lessen drivers' traffic jam and parking stresses

  • Image: Traffic Jam Assist.jpg
Image: 2013 Ford Fusion.jpg

The all-new 2013 Ford Fusion uses a package of radar, ultrasonic, optical, and motion sensors for various driver-assist technologies, including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping system, blind spot information system, and active park assist.

Adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert, lane keeping, and active park aids are examples of driver-assist technologies available on various 2013 Ford vehicles, including the all-new Fusion midsize sedan.

“We’re trying to deliver customer-relevant technologies that customers really value and that provide an innovative solution for them,” Hau Thai-Tang, Vice President of Global Engineering at Ford, told this AEI reporter at the automaker’s 2013 product preview media day in Dearborn, MI, in late June.

The technology push at Ford is absolutely intentional.

“We want to deliver more technologies that are either first to market, or first to segment, or first for that nameplate versus that of our competition,” Thai-Tang told AEI, explaining one of the automaker’s primary strategies.

Next-generation driver-assist innovations are in the works.

For instance, perpendicular parking will be the next iteration of active parking assist, with the first application available on the 2013 Ford Mondeo in Europe, according to Thai-Tang.

“What we have now only does parallel parking,” said Thai-Tang. The perpendicular parking assist system will use ultrasonic sensors on the vehicle’s sides to determine an appropriate parking spot.

The system is able “to project the trajectory to get into the space, and it provides the steering input through the active electric power steering system. So the driver would only be responsible for working the transmission (shifter) to go from park into reverse and to actuate the brake and the throttle (pedals),” said Thai-Tang.

Driving in heavily congested traffic could become less stressful with traffic-jam assist technology.

Raj Nair, Group Vice President of Ford’s Global Product Development, said that simulation studies have shown that if one of every four vehicles on a stretch of roadway were equipped with technology allowing it to follow automatically the traffic ahead, travel time could be reduced by 37.5% and traffic delays could be cut by 20%.

“We’re considering this technology for the future. It is not far along enough to announce any introductions,” Nair told AEI.

A vehicle equipped with traffic-jam assist uses radar and cameras as well as in-vehicle data to keep pace with other vehicles and stay in the current lane with automated steering control.

According to Nair, traffic-jam assist essentially automates certain functions to reduce the workload of drivers while keeping the driver in the loop and in control of the vehicle.

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