Ford's next-gen driver assist will swerve before you do

One step closer to an autonomous vehicle in your driveway.

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REUTERS/Rick Wilking
REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The trickle-down benefits of Ford's autonomous driving technology are making their way into more and more consumer vehicles. While Tesla might get all the headlines with Autopilot, Ford has been quietly rolling out smart, driver-assist features across more of its vehicles than any other manufacturer. Today, the automaker announced a new generation of technologies like evasive steering assist, cross-traffic alerts, pedestrian detection and enhanced self-parking that should make driving a little less stressful and a lot safer for everyone.

Currently in development, cross-traffic alerts will detect objects that are about to pass behind the vehicle while reversing and alert the driver with a warning sound and a wide-angle view on the backup camera. If the driver still doesn't respond, the car will automatically brake to avoid a fender bender. For even more stress-free parking moments, the company says they'll be rolling out an enhanced pushbutton parking system that can parallel park or even back into a perpendicular space with no driver input.

The evasive steering technology is a little more aggressive and uses a combination of radar and camera systems to detect stopped or slowed traffic in front of your own vehicle. If you suddenly pull up on a stopped car, your next-gen Ford will swerve to avoid it, even at highway speeds. To solve a burning question about autonomous vehicles, Ford says the system will only kick in when it knows there won't be enough room to avoid the collision by braking.

The company also says their driver-assist system can use a combination of GPS data and visual information to alert drivers if they've accidentally started driving the wrong way down a one-way street. And an infrared camera system can spot pedestrians, cyclists and animals to notify drivers to even more unseen roadside hazards. Ford expects these features to show up in new vehicles sometime in the next two years, so there's a chance you'll never have to parallel park a 2019 Ford Fusion on your own.

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