LOS ANGELES -- Ford Motor Co. took its mobility technology road show to L.A., touting semi-autonomous driving features in a city known for its scary driving conditions.
In fact, the automaker stressed the challenges of Southern California’s legendarily bad traffic on Monday by releasing the results of a poll -- conducted by market research firm Penn Schoen Berland -- that showed 26 percent of Angelenos feared backing out their vehicles onto a busy street. That was more than the 16 percent who said they were scared by ghosts.
Ford, completing its five-city Ford Smart Mobility Tour, gave automotive journalists a chance to test-drive driver-assist features in which drivers could either parallel park or back into a parking space that’s perpendicular to the roadway without touching the steering wheel. Sensors on models such as the 2015 Ford Edge crossover indicate to the driver where a spot is available and when the driver needs to engage the gas or brake pedal, allowing for a hands-free experience parking the vehicle.
The company also showed off its Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature that will be available on the 2016 Ford F-150 pickup truck and eases the challenge of backing up a vehicle with a trailer attached.
The Ford Smart Mobility Tour began Aug. 27 and included events in Louisville, Orlando, Seattle and Denver.
Ford also hosted a discussion panel on urban mobility issues that included Los Angeles city planner Claire Bowin and UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies Director Brian Taylor.
Mike Tinskey, Ford's director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure, said Ford’s semi-autonomous-driving vehicle features such as parking assist, adaptive cruise control and lane maintenance represent what he called “a continuum” of gradual improvements towards self-driving vehicles.
“Connectivity is going to be a big enabler that transcends through many solutions,” Tinskey said on Monday’s panel discussion. “We see L.A. out in front of these trends.”
Tinskey said Ford also is testing a feature called Parking Spotter, which he said could eventually be added to Ford’s vehicle line. That feature uses ultrasonic sensors on the moving vehicle’s exterior to spot and record available parking spots. That data could be sent to a cloud-based storage system, which other Ford drivers could access through an app to get a real-time map of available parking spaces.