Print 29 comment(s) - last by overlandpark4m.. on Jul 2 at 2:48 AM

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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Is Parking really that difficult?
By MechanicalTechie on 6/27/2012 2:53:47 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously if you can't park your car without using an aid you shouldn't be on the road... feels like they are handing out driving license's on the back of Corn Flakes packets these days!!

RE: Is Parking really that difficult?
By ritualm on 6/27/2012 3:28:14 AM , Rating: 2
There is no degree required to reproduce, even the stupidest know how.

RE: Is Parking really that difficult?
By Samus on 6/27/2012 12:53:36 AM , Rating: 3
My pregnant wife would find this useful in her Escape, since she has trouble twisting her torso to look behind when backing out the driveway. Lately it's been so difficult to navigate our narrow driveway passage that she does a three point turn to pull out forward, or like today, just decided to back the car up the driveway so it'd be easier to just drive out in the morning.

A lot of people could find this useful, altough personally, I agree, it's pretty ridiculous for people without handicaps. Some states don't even require you to parallel park during the road exam because parallel parking is non-existant. I know Wisconsin was like this in the 90's and as far as I know, still is today.

But obviously, these are all systems developed with one end-goal: a completely autonomous vehicle. I use the adaptive cruise on my MKS all the time and it's one of the best features of the car. I'd pay dearly for the software upgrade to traffic-jam assist, saving my legs AND arms from stress in long, slow traffic jams.

RE: Is Parking really that difficult?
By Gnarr on 6/27/2012 10:02:37 AM , Rating: 2
That is why cars have mirrors...

RE: Is Parking really that difficult?
By Samus on 6/27/2012 2:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
Mirrors can't see a child 3 feet from your rear bumper, you have to twist your torso and look out the rear window.

And no matter how good your peripheral vision, focusing on all three mirrors simultaneously is impossible to quickly detect a pedestrian crossing paths with a car backing up through the narrow passage that is our driveway (brick walls on both sides, 9 feet wide narrow passage.)

Sometimes all this technology isn't so stupid. Deaths related to car accidents have decreased year-after-year for over 3 decades. I don't think thats happening because people are driving better, thats for sure.

RE: Is Parking really that difficult?
By amanojaku on 6/27/2012 3:31:00 AM , Rating: 4
I was going to say the same thing, but then I thought about a few people: the elderly, the disabled, and the incapacitated (e.g. drunk). Automated driving and parking could be useful for them. I don't mind technology like this, as long as it can be disabled. Because driving is fun as hell.

By cigar3tte on 6/27/2012 1:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
You're listing people who shouldn't be driving. Don't make technologies to encourage them.

By MrBlastman on 6/27/2012 4:23:18 PM , Rating: 2
Drunk individuals should never, ever be driving. I want them to wreck when parking their car as it will increase the chances of them being arrested, incarcerated and penalized for their foolish, inconsiderate decision.

By dgingerich on 6/26/2012 10:11:17 PM , Rating: 2
They've been handing out driver's licenses for anyone who can read at a first grade level for decades. As for parking, there are many who just can't get it right. All you have to do is take a look at a Walmart or Best Buy parking lot to see that. About a third of people can't even stay between the lines, let alone get the car centered in a parking place.

The problem is that most of those people just don't care. They park however they get in, never caring how close or far away they are from other cars. If someone can't get in their car because of it, well, they certainly don't care. Parking assist won't help with those people.

RE: Is Parking really that difficult?
By ET on 6/27/2012 9:12:01 AM , Rating: 2
Parking and driving are two different skills. Most people can park, it just takes more time and effort for some of us. A tool to speed this process and make the result perfect will be helpful not only to the driver but to all the others who need to wait or get annoyed by the result.

By Dr of crap on 6/27/2012 10:23:45 AM , Rating: 2
If you can't park your car, then you lack the ability to know your car boundries, ie - the demensions of the car.
And this DOES affect your ability to drive on the road. Knowing how much room you have to the right side of your car IS a needed skill when driving. And this can be tested by REQUIRING parallel parking during driving tests.

How many of you move (left) over the center line when you pass a bike rider, even if he has a wide bike lane to be in?
How many move over to the right when driving on a two lane road because your afraid of the traffic coming towards you?
How many slow down and can't drive next to those cement barriers that are used during road construction, even if there are NO signs that say you need to drive SLOWER than the posted speed.

Theses are just a few of the problems that occur everday because of drivers that don't know how big, their car is, and YES it does affect EVERYONE else. Extending the length of time a OLD driver could drive BECAUSE of this self parking helps no one and makes traffic worse!

I don't understand how PARKING is one of the mundane driving skills that we need help with, but if it makes the other guy park away from me and not hit my car - OK!

RE: Is Parking really that difficult?
By Arsynic on 6/27/2012 1:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
For women it is...

And please don't mention Danika Patrick as if she's the average woman driver.

By Schrag4 on 6/27/2012 1:19:39 PM , Rating: 3
Sure, she can drive, but how do you know she can park?

I kid, I kid

Backing into spots
By mrwassman on 6/26/2012 9:17:39 PM , Rating: 2
It is not legal in some places here (California) to back into a spot because it hides your registration stickers.

RE: Backing into spots
By tayb on 6/27/2012 4:23:13 PM , Rating: 3
I am not surprised at all that it would be California with such an idiotic law.

RE: Backing into spots
By bah12 on 6/27/2012 12:04:03 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention it actually adds to the total time to park and pull out. We had a parking garage at work, and it drove me nuts to see some jerk take 3x longer to back in holding up the whole line, just to save him a fraction of the time to pull out. From my observations the time spent backing in, never pays off in getting you out of the spot faster.

RE: Backing into spots
By av911 on 6/27/2012 12:35:38 PM , Rating: 2
How do you know getting out of a spot faster is their reasoning for backing into a space?

It's SAFER and EASIER to back into a parking space than backing out to traffic.

RE: Backing into spots
By bah12 on 6/28/2012 9:50:05 AM , Rating: 2
In traffic I'd maybe agree, but very few (if any) people can back in faster than backing out. My example was in a parking garage where taking longer to get in on rush hour mornings holds up everyone.

RE: Backing into spots
By Brazos on 6/27/2012 12:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
My company (113.000 employees worldwide) requires rear parking at all of it's facilities. Been that way over 10 years. The theory being that though it's slower to park, it's safer when you come out of a spot. They're very strict about safety. No seat belt while on campus or company vehicle? Fired. And no talking/texting on cell phone while on a roadway. Have to pull over.

RE: Backing into spots
By arazok on 6/27/2012 1:01:43 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a shitty place to work.

What sort of asshole decides that you deserve to get fired for not wearing your seatbelt while driving at 10Mph? You’re not going to get hurt in a parking lot collision.

Do they have spot checks and subject you to breathalyzer tests and surprise safety inspections too?

“Your rear tire is underinflated. Pack up your desk and walk home you piece of crap!”

Someday these cars will be
By HoosierEngineer5 on 6/27/2012 2:57:16 PM , Rating: 2
... as smart as the horses they replaced!

RE: Someday these cars will be
By Connoisseur on 6/27/2012 10:16:05 AM , Rating: 2
I think the lack of solid waste more than makes up for it. Can you imagine living in a city in the time of horses? Must've stunk to high heaven.

RE: Someday these cars will be
By PrinceGaz on 6/27/2012 3:43:44 PM , Rating: 2
The horse manure may smell bad but it could be scooped up quite easily (and as a bonus, taken to the countryside for use as fertiliser). The problem in the past was lack of public services to collect and remove it.

Petrol and diesel fumes on the other hand may not smell so bad but are much more harmful to us than some manure on the road or pavement.

I'm not advocating going back to horses though. If someone could invent some form of guided electrically-powered transport which follows a programmed route of the user's choice, the car would be obsolete, and roads as we know them today be used only for leisure like canals are now.

RE: Someday these cars will be
By The Raven on 6/28/2012 12:41:51 PM , Rating: 2
I think they are as smart as most of the drivers they replaced.

Polite homonym nudge:
By In2Boost on 6/27/2012 4:31:23 PM , Rating: 3
...pressing the gas and the break...

Let the lawsuits begin
By hood6558 on 6/29/2012 11:52:04 AM , Rating: 2
As more cars are available with this technology, I think it will come to be a major scapegoat for bad drivers, who will say "it wasn't me, the car drove into that guy". That also may indeed be true if the auto makers track record with new tech is considered. Like the Toyota debacle. In the entire history of automobiles, only a handful of accidents were caused by a throttle CABLE sticking; now with "drive-by-wire" we rely on electrons to control the throttle. Let a wire get pinched or a ground get loose, and who knows what the system will do? I have been in one of Ford's late model Super Duty trucks going down the expressway when the throttle went dead, and had to pull over in heavy traffic, call a Ford dealer for help ("just turn the key off, restart it and it should be fine"). What if I was trapped in a middle lane when this happened? Not to mention the very risky propositions of parking on the interstate and re-entering heavy traffic. If that had caused me to get into an accident, you can bet I'd have sued Ford for all I could get. There's no such thing as "foolproof" technology, so now we can all blame bad driving on the vehicle. Only the lawyers win. In my experience (32 years as an automobile tech), Ford has the worst electronic systems bar none. So isn't it ironic that Ford is always coming up with cutting edge electronic technology (that never seems to work right)?
Like others commented, why keep old drivers on the road beyond their ability to drive safely? It's already bad enough what with the population aging and medical science keeping people alive much longer. Until the automobile is truly "auto", with proven fail-safes to avoid glitches, these borderline technologies should be relegated to the test track. I'm not a technophobe who thinks we should go back to carburetors; I love tech that works, just as I hate tech that inherently doesn't. Ford, if you want to kill more people, bring back the Pinto!

By overlandpark4me on 7/2/2012 2:48:43 AM , Rating: 2
Now I'll get to watch some bimbo text while she "parks"

In a perfect world
By ShaolinSoccer on 6/27/12, Rating: 0
Something missing here...
By MeesterNid on 6/26/12, Rating: -1
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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