Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ford’s New Ultimate Parking Machine

Ford Parking AssistIn the Ford system, sensors will identify a parking space and then advise the driver about the proximity of other cars and objects through visual and audible cues.

The fine art of parallel parking might be one step closer to extinction.

Two years ago, Lexus introduced what it calls the advanced parking guidance system, which theoretically enabled the Lexus LS 460L to parallel-park itself along any prime patch of empty curb.

The system was far from perfect. In his review of the LS 460L for The New York Times, Lawrence Ulrich wrote:

In practice, the system often took multiple tries over several minutes before docking successfully. It struggled to identify curbs and regularly asked me to realign the car before trying to park. The parking space has to be huge, at least five feet longer than the car, calling the entire exercise into question. And the system shuts down if you back up too fast.

Needless to say, the excitement came and went.

Now Ford is having a go at the trick with Active Park Assist, which will soon be available on two Lincoln vehicles.

Active Park Assist uses an ultrasonic-based sensing system and electric power-assisted steering to work its magic. Ford said its system also works on hills.

With sensors on the front and rear of the vehicle, the system identifies a parking space. While parking, the system advises the driver about the proximity of other cars and objects through visual or audible cues, or both. The driver can interrupt the automated procedure at any time.

The sensors used for the system also have other functions. For example, a sensor on the outboard rear quarter panel also monitors a blind spot area (part of the Blind Spot Information System) while helping detect cross traffic when backing out of a parking spot (Cross Traffic Alert).

Active Park Assist will be available as an option on the 2010 Lincoln MKS sedan in the middle of next year and will also be available on the MKT crossover, which will be introduced at the Detroit auto show next month.