If only braking was as simple as pressing a pedal. The uncertain outcome of a pedal depression is nerve-racking and dangerous. This, combined with the issue of distraction makes braking an enormous issue. In response to that, Ford and other automobile manufacturers are introducing automatic braking in the future.
Ford just announced technology which provides 'pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection'. This technology uses a windshield-mounted camera to match shapes against a database of pedestrian shapes to help it distinguish between pedestrians and objects.
The technology's next step of operation is to estimate the probability of a collision and alert the driver. If the driver doesn't respond, the car will start to depress the brake pads in order to decrease the gap between them and the discs, and then it will stop accelerating and start braking automatically.
There is the age-old question of whether or not the purpose of safety technology is defeated by encouraging people to be more careless. That sounds unlikely, but I would personally prefer if there was a system like this was in place to reduce the numerous accidents caused by inattention and carelessness.
Ford's first vehicle to implement this technology is the 2015 Mondeo. It will be available in Europe this year.
Apart from that, according to Stan Schroeder of Mashable:
This isn't the first time we've seen collision-detection technology. The 2014 Lexus LS touted a complete stop at up to 24 mph if it detected a pedestrian. And Volvo has promised complete stops at up to 22 mph since early 2010.
You can consider pre-collision technology the precursor to self-driving car technology. Self-driving vehicle technology is on its way. Ford and Google have been proving its capabilities with outright self-driving cars (Google), and automated vehicles such as the Ford Fusion I saw at the Detroit Auto Show.