Cruise control for cars has been around for a while, but it’s not exactly useful when you hit some rush hour gridiron. There are systems out there with “adaptive” cruise control, but Ford’s Traffic Jam Assist is an “intelligent driving feature” that will take that to a whole new level.
Taking advantage of technology from the existing active park assist, adaptive cruise control, Lane-Keeping Aid and the PowerShift transmission, Traffic Jam Assist works to drive the car for you under stop-and-go conditions. It does this by monitoring the car in front of you with radar and camera technology, adaptively accelerating and braking on your behalf to keep pace with other vehicles, including those that may suddenly cut you off. The automated steering control will keep you in your current lane too. They say that this technology is being developed “for the mid-term.”
If more cars are equipped with similar technology, we could see improved traffic flow and faster commute times for everyone. It’s all that stop and go that really slows us down.
Ford has also announced that they are working on an upgraded version of its active park assist system. This already lets you parallel park automatically, steering you into a parking spot with only brake input from the driver. The hands-free system is being upgraded for perpendicular parking too, like you would see at the mall parking lot.
It finds a spot with ultrasonic sensors and then steers you into the spot using electric power-assisted steering. Presumably, the user interface is the same, so you don’t need to gas but it’s still up to you to apply the brake (and clutch) and change gears as needed. I’ve used the parallel parking with Ford’s active park assist and while it’s definitely a neat feature, I find that it’s still much slower than parking the old-fashioned way. I guess slow and safe is better than fast with a dented bumper.