2012-07-03

Co.Exist

Ford's Traffic Jam Assist Is The Next Step To Self-Driving Cars

Maybe you’re not comfortable letting a computer drive your car all the time, but once you start letting it take over in traffic, you’ll be on a slippery slope of convenience.

The self-driving car is no longer firmly planted in the science-fiction realm; Google has made sure of that. But the masses probably wouldn’t yet be comfortable letting cars completely think for themselves. In the interim, automakers are rolling out innovations that will make the completely self-driving car a little less shocking when it arrives in the not-too-distant future.

First we saw Volvo’s self-driving road trains, which let people take their hands off the wheel while on the highway. Now Ford has announced that it’s working on traffic jam assist technology--an automated system that could take over when drivers are trapped in traffic. Considering that drivers are on average stuck in traffic 30% of the time, that’s giving a significant amount of control over to the car.

The system will use cameras and radars to keep track of vehicles in front of you, making sure that you brake and accelerate just enough to be safe. Automated steering control will ensure that you don’t veer into another lane. When the traffic jam ends, the system asks the driver to resume control of the vehicle

No word on a release date for the technology, but considering that Volvo is already testing its system on highways and Google has a fleet of self-driving cars, it probably won’t be long.

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