Active Park Assist Automates Parallel ParkingPosted on June 7th, 2009
New Ford technology debuts on 2010 models
When I was a teenager, the parallel parking section of the driving exam was fodder for sleepless nights. What if I failed to keep the car within six inches of the curb, or even worse, whacked the car in front when jimmying into place?
Since the ’69 Buick Skylark I learned to drive on had huge blind spots at all four corners, parallel parking taught me the meaning of ‘leap of faith.’ Had Ford’s active park assist technology been available back then, I could have cruised through school days without falling asleep in my afternoon chemistry class.
Active park assist uses ultrasonic sensors and electric power steering to position the vehicle for parallel parking and angle it into an appropriate parking spot. The technology debuts in 2010 on the Ford Escape and Escape Hybrid, Flex, Mercury Mariner and Mariner Hybrid, Lincoln MKS sedan and MKT crossover.
The driver activates the system by pressing a button on the center console. Sensors measure and identify a parking place long enough for the vehicle. An icon shows the driver that the system has found an appropriate space: an audible signal prompts the driver to stop and shift into reverse.
The rest is automatic: active park assist steers the car into the parking spot, hands free. Visual and audible sensors tell the driver about the proximity of other vehicles. At any time, the driver can stop the process by grabbing onto the steering wheel.
Electric power steering has a pull-drift compensation feature, that offsets drifting due to crosswinds or uneven road surfaces. Active parking assist works in tandem with Ford’s blind spot detection system with cross traffic alert.
By 2012, Ford plants to fit 90 percent of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products with electric power steering. The system saves fuel over hydraulic assist since the car battery, rather than the engine, provides power for the electric motor.
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