Ford's stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, which will be available this spring on new Fusion sedans, works below that speed threshold, and will still function even when your car has come to a full stop. Using a suite of cameras and radar, the technology tracks the car ahead and matches its speed, slowing or even stopping if the situation warrants it.
If you're standing still for more than three seconds, the feature will ask you to tap a button to reactivate it, which could get annoying. Still, so long as the traffic is frequently starting and stopping, so will the car, all by itself.
As a reflection of how cautiously and incrementally the car industry has approached vehicle automation, Ford is quick to say that this is simply an upgrade to the cruise control features you're used to. And, the company said, the team behind this update is separate from the one that works on its driverless car technology.
Still, this technology gets us a step closer to a future where cars know how to space themselves apart more efficiently, and to travel in platoons so as to eliminate congestion altogether. Imagine if each car were driving itself and leaving enough room ahead so that it didn't need to engage in stop-and-go behavior. That's the holy grail of vehicle automation.