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Ford Heightens Media Blitz With Automated Driving

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On: Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 11:44AM | By: Chris Salamone

Ford Heightens Media Blitz With Automated Driving

We’ve seen a lot of fireworks shooting from the Ford media engine lately – which seems appropriate with the Fourth of July looming – especially with regards to new vehicle technologies. But apparently the movers and shakers at Ford have been up to more than just EcoTech engines, KeyFree, and improvements to the company’s lagging MyFord Touch.

Ford is in the midst of developing two next-generation systems that could improve or eliminate some of the most despised driving obstacles: traffic jams and reverse perpendicular parking.

In the near term, active park assist tech (found on a few current Ford models) will jump from handless parallel parking to handless perpendicular parking.

Sure, perpendicular parking is typically a lot easier for the average driver. But what about those nasty instances where a reverse pull-in is required? Ford hopes that an enhanced active park assist, which measures the width rather than length of a potential space, will be able to aim and fire using the vehicle’s rear parking distance control sensors as a sort of autopilot guidance.

Perhaps more enticing, Ford is also developing a Traffic Jam Assist system for some time in the “mid-term” – whenever that is. The company suggests that in situations where 25 percent of vehicles automatically follow traffic, travel times could be reduced by as much as 37.5 percent and delays slashed by 20 percent.

In theory, Traffic Jam Assist would automatically respond to constantly changing traffic conditions, BUT drivers won’t be able to slip into slumber. Ford plans to incorporate content to “ensure the driver remains alert and in contact with the vehicle controls.”

Of course we’d all prefer to nap during times of congestion…but until 100 percent of vehicles are equipped with some kind of automated control, human support seems like a good idea.

“It’s an undertaking we believe will save time, conserve resources, lower emissions, improve safety and help reduce driver stress,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation.

And that sounds like a realistic goal, provided Ford can actually manage to equip 25 percent of the driving marketplace with Traffic Jam Assist. The company broadly estimates that millions of gallons of fuel could be saved each year.

Maybe all those fuel savings will be the result of fewer trips to the therapist after months of reduced parking accidents and traffic jam-induced blues.

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