Ford continues to expand ways to allow the car to "take over" boring tasks from the user

It's no Google Inc. (GOOGself-driving car, but the latest technologies from Ford Motor Comp. (F) inch the homely automobile a bit closer to autopilot, critically taking monotonous tasks off the user's hands.

I. Perpendicular Park Expands Autopilot Options

At a special event on Tuesday, Ford showed off its latest addition to its active park assist (APA) package -- perpendicular park assist.  The technology complements the existing parallel park assist, which is in current models.  The tech will back your car into perpendicular parking lot spots, allowing for the perfect park job and speedy departures.

Much like the parallel park assist, the driver will still be tasked with shifting and pressing the gas and the break, though the proximity sensor will give chimes to warn the user as they near the vehicle behind them.

Perpendicular park
Ford vehicles will soon add perpendicular active park assist. [Image Source: Valeo]

This technology is expected to make it into vehicles within the next year.

Ford is not alone in this feat.  Volkswagen AG (ETR:VOW) has offered a similar perpendicular-parking capable Park Assist system since the 2011 model year [source] in many of its vehicles.  

Both Ford and Volkswagen's systems are licensed variants of the Park4U system produced by French supplier Valeo S.A. (EPA:FR).

II. Looking Ahead -- Traffic Jam Prevention

Another problem Ford is looking to tackle is traffic jams.  Ford group vice president Raj Nair, comments, "As an engineer we're always looking for a smarter way, a better way."

To combat congestion and frustration, Ford is introducing Traffic Jam Assist, a technology which can optionally take over driving when the user is in stop and go traffic.  The technology works somewhat like a low-speed adaptive cruise control, but adds automated braking and lane-keeping to the mix.  Drivers can override the system at any time to change lanes.

Traffic Jam Assist
Ford wants to get you out of the jam. [Image Source: Ford]

The technology is built upon a hodge-podge of previous Ford features -- active park assist (APA), adaptive cruise control (ACS), Lane-Keeping Aid, and the PowerShift transmission technologies.  The camera and infrared sensors are used.

The system comes complete with helpful user updates.  As soon as a traffic jam dissolves the system informs the user so they can take control again.  If a vehicle cuts off the user, a separate warning is given.

Ford says the system can improve travel time by up to 37.5 percent and reduce delays by 20 percent.  It says that if the system was deployed to a significant percentage of vehicles on the road, it could greatly reduce the occurrence of severe traffic jams, which plague many cities.

A narrated computer animation of the technology can be viewed below.

A time frame for deployment was not given.

Source: Ford

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