Ford predicts self-driving, traffic-reducing cars by 2017

July 4, 2012 | Source: ExtremeTech

(Credit: Ford)

According to Ford, the self-driving car will be here within five years, using technologies available today.

The technology concept, known as Traffic Jam Assist, uses adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and the sensors from its active park assist.

While driver safety is the primary benefit, the environment wins as well. If one in four cars has Traffic Jam Assist or similar self-driving technologies, travel times are reduced by 37.5% and delays are reduced by 20%. That’s because adaptive cruise control (ACC) is better at pacing the car ahead without continual brake, speed-up, brake cycles.

For Traffic Jam Assist to work, Ford says you need a limited access roadway with no bicyclists, pedestrians, or animals (that you care about), and well-marked lanes.

Others, led by Volvo with City Safety and Pedestrian Safety, have created technologies that stop cars in potential accident situations on urban roads. Volvo doesn’t need a limited-access road, but City Safety is stop-only; it’s not continuous self-driving.

As an offshoot of Traffic Jam Assist, Ford says it will extend the capabilities of Active Park Assist, which is offered on cars now, from parallel parking to perpendicular parking, meaning parking at the mall or supermarket. In both cases, the car measures and steers while the driver controls the throttle and brakes.