DEARBORN — Ford Motor Co. says that while it can’t prevent aggravating traffic congestion, it’s adding something new to help make traffic less stressful.
A new stop-and-go technology, to be available on the 2017 fusion, piggybacks on the existing adaptive cruise control. When activated, it automatically accelerates and brakes for the driver while maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard released by Texas A&M Transportation Institute, America’s drivers spent 6.9 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2014, an average of nearly an hour a week. Drivers fighting traffic in the most gridlocked cities – New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. – found it significantly worse, losing nearly an hour and a half.
Now, using dedicated steering wheel buttons, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go allows drivers to set cruise control speed and following distance from the vehicle ahead. The semi-autonomous technology can automatically adjust the set speed for comfortable travel – much like a human driver would – bringing the car to a full stop when traffic halts. If the car has to stop for more than three seconds, the driver can tap the resume button or accelerator and the car returns to its preset speed. This assures the driver is paying attention in the event of a long pause in traffic.
Adaptive cruise control employs a combination of sensors and software. When activated, the technology uses an advanced radar-and-camera based system, which reads the road 20 times a second – tracking traffic and adjusting Fusion’s cruise control according to traffic flow. In slow traffic, with minimal driver input, the car can automatically brake itself to a stop, then resume travel up to set speed and following distance.
“When testing this system, we traveled to cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, heading straight for the worst possible congestion,” said Scott Lindstrom, Ford driver-assist technologies manager. “It was important for us to test this system under conditions the average driver encounters every workday.”
The cars also offer Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, isomg part of the same sensors and camera to watch the road ahead for potential collisions with a vehicle or pedestrian. When a situation is detected, the system provides a visual and audible warning to the driver, pre-charges the brakes and, if necessary, can then automatically apply up to full braking force. This can help reduce the severity of, or even eliminate, some frontal collisions.
The 2017 Fusion is the first Ford vehicle in North America to offer adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection. Stop-and-go will be added to three new Ford products within the next two years.