Malcolm Flynn | Jul 2, 2012

Ford has announced that it is working on a range of technologies aimed at reducing traffic congestion and driver anxiety.

Key among these systems is ‘Traffic Jam Assist’ (not related to Audi's system of the same name), which combines existing adaptive cruise control and lane departure prevention systems to enable a semi-autonomous driving mode.

This would remove some of the driver-reaction-time element from congested driving, and Ford estimates that traffic flow could be improved by up to 37.5 percent, even with just one quarter of vehicles using such a system.

Ford is also working on a ‘workload estimator’, which would compare information from several sensors, including a biometric seat, seatbelt and steering wheel to estimate concentration levels of the driver.

This system will have the ability to redirect incoming phone calls, among other intervention methods, if the driver’s concentration levels reach a pre-determined threshold.

A ‘workload estimator’ system follows a similar theory to other systems in place (and under development) of other manufacturers, aimed at monitoring driver fatigue.

The blue oval is also looking to expand its current ‘active park assist’ parallel parking aid (currently available in Focus models) to include perpendicular parking assistance - likely to be of greater benefit given the relative rarity of parallel parking situations.

"It's an undertaking we believe will save time, conserve resources, lower emissions, improve safety and help reduce driver stress," Ford Research and Innovation boss Paul Mascarenas said of the three systems.

Given these systems will largely use existing sensors and other hardware, their implementation is expected in the near future, though Ford isn’t suggesting specific dates or models.

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