December 31, 2008

New Technology Makes Parking Stress Free

The days of worrying about parallel parking are now just a glance in the rear view mirror, according to Ford Motor Co. who said Tuesday it is unveiling self-parking technology.

The option will be included on the 2010 Lincoln MKS sedan and the new seven-passenger Lincoln MKT luxury crossover vehicle.

Ford says the technology, called Active Park Assist, uses ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear of the vehicle, combined with electric power steering to angle and guide it into a tight 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 also have other functions like one on the outboard rear quarter panel that monitors a blind spot area while helping detect cross traffic when backing out of a parking spot.

Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus luxury line also has a video camera-based parking system that can calculate whether the vehicle has enough clearance for a particular spot.

However, Ford's technology is easier to use and works in downhill parking situations, unlike competing systems, according to Ford's president of the Americas, Mark Fields.

"This one-touch function will be much safer to use and less intimidating," Fields said. "It's all part of our strategy to introduce smart technology to a vehicle that will make our lives easier."

Fields says the driver will still shift the transmission and operate the gas and brake pedals, but the driver never has to touch the steering wheel.

By 2012, the company plans to fit nearly 90 percent of its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles with electric power steering.

The parking assistance technology will be featured at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

Fields said pricing on the new models wasn't available, but added he believes it's an affordable way to eliminate unease about parking.

"I don't know about you, but when I was taking my driving test, parallel parking was the most stressful part," he said.


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