Ford Inches Toward Autonomous Cars, Helps the Parking-Challenged

Most people don’t know how to drive, or even park. Not you, of course, but all those other idiots on the road. They slow you down on the freeway, alternately stabbing the brakes and accelerator, causing a chain-reaction slowdown behind them. Or they back up traffic while cautiously inching into a parking spot, with little regard for those around them. But help is available, with more on the way. While serious motorists decry the creep of technology that takes control from the driver, they should instead thank car companies for making what’s easy for some of us – like maintaining speed with the flow of traffic and quickly pulling into a parking spot – foolproof for more people.

And Ford is making it more affordable for the masses. The automaker has announced two new driver assistance technologies: Traffic Jam Assist and the addition of perpendicular parking to its Active Park Assist system. Ford says it’s developing Traffic Jam Assist for the “mid-term” and the perpendicular parking feature for the “near-term.”

Traffic Jam Assist is essentially a mash-up of active cruise control and lane-position technology, which Ford notes are already available on current Ford models such as the Focus, Escape and Fusion. Radar sensors and cameras on the car help it keep pace with other vehicles in traffic and stay in its lane. Ford says the feature could potentially improve the flow of traffic “where there are no pedestrians, cyclists or animals, and where lanes are clearly marked.”

The automaker also claims that in cases in which just 25 percent of vehicles are equipped with Traffic Jam Assist, commutes times on a stretch of road can be reduced by 37.5 percent and delays reduced by 20 percent, “saving millions of gallons of fuel each year.” And to make sure that the driver doesn’t rely on technology to keep the car on track and spend timing texting instead, Ford says Traffic Jam Assist will include features to guarantee the driver stays engaged.

Ford’s Active Park Assist technology already lets timid drivers parallel park at the touch of a button, and now perpendicular parking will be added. As with the parallel-parking feature, it uses ultrasonic sensors to scope out a parking space of suitable size, in this case for width rather than length. Then the driver just has to put the vehicle into reverse and operate brakes and clutch, while the system spins the steering wheel and automatically eases the vehicle into the spot.

Get used to it: The car is taking control. Resistance is futile. And for those who know how to drive, you can always choose to turn it off.

Originally posted on Wired Autopia


  1. I like that Autonomous Cars

  2. We buy cars says:

    Attractive post.

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