Extreme Tech Cars
The future just got five years closer. According to Ford anyway. There has been a great deal of Nanny Technology sneaking its way into cars the past year or two. And for most of us that just doesn’t feel right. We like to be in control of our vehicles. We take pride in our ability to drive and we like it just fine. But allow me to be the devil’s advocate for a moment. Just hear me out.
Hand down with no argument the worst experience in driving is the commute for urban dwellers. Simply put it sucks. Remember the movie Falling Down, how it started in a traffic jam and Michael Douglas just got out of his car and abandoned it. That’s how we all feel. There is one solid fact we can’t escape. That being that most drivers suck. They’re timid and nervous. They have no concept how to merge and make bad decisions in a panic. Those two factors alone can cause an enormous traffic jams that back up for miles.
Well it seems this technology is slowly being implemented into production cars to ease us into the idea that maybe at least for our daily city commute we should think about releasing control and letting a computer take care of the drive. Technology such as Blind Spot alert and Lane Change alerts. There’s Traffic Jam assist and Adaptive Cruise Control and even Active Park Assist. All these elements are taking the burden of pressure off the driver and are designed to perform these operations as efficiently and expediently as possible. And in theory it all translates into reduced less delays and shorter commutes and even reduced fuel and energy consumption. Extreme tech cars are a vision of easier effortless travel. And the skeptic in us all still questions if it possible.
Take a look at Traffic Jam Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Ford did a study and claims the results were telling. Apparently if only one in four cars were equipped with Traffic Jam Assist travel times are reduced by 37.5% and delays are reduced by 20%. That means if you’re average commute time on the freeway is 60 minutes, with Traffic Jam Assist be only 38 minutes. This is because adaptive cruise control, or ACC, automatically paces to the car ahead without the continual brake and gas and brake cycle. And we all know that stop and go traffic sucks. It’s frustrating and stressful. How it works is ACC keeps pace by utilizing a forward radar and mirror-mounted camera. The Lane Keep Assist maintains the car in its lane by using the camera in the mirror. Electric power steering is implemented because it’s better for remote or computer control than mechanical power steering. All car operations are guided by the Traffic Jam Assist black box. There are sonar units for blind spot detection and cross traffic alerts, which are cars crossing behind when reversing. When you combine all these driver assists you wind up with a car that’s able to guide itself during predictable, low-speed conditions.
According to Ford Traffic Jam Assist can reduce cars cutting each other off since ACC maintains a tighter following distance than a driver would. This reduces the space between cars and opportunities to cut lanes. But the entire time the driver is in control and if they wish they recover full control again by actively turning the wheel or pressing the pedals.
Ford has openly admitted this technology only works in vehicle traffic only situations. Meaning a freeway or city street with no bicycle pedestrian traffic. But Park Assist utilizes all the same mirrors and laser readers to guide a car into a perfectly executed parallel park.
So many of us find all this talk of extreme tech carss laughable, but we certainly know there are too many drivers out there who find the simplest of maneuvers to be challenging and often fold under the pressure. And having our own personal completely automated vehicle sure beats the alternative of squeezing into a public transit every day.