Ford Motor Company’s new self-parking technology that can get you in and out of some pretty tight spots, or avoid them altogether.
The automaker demonstrated its Fully Assisted Parking Aid and Obstacle Avoidance system in Belgium earlier this month and there’s speculation that they may be available to the public within the year.
Ford’s Fully Assisted Parking Aid allows motorists to back into angled and perpendicular parking spots from the comfort of the driver’s seat, or use a remote from outside the vehicle. It wasn’t clear during the demonstration whether or not the system would also allow for head-in parking.
The system also features ultrasonic sensors which sound an alarm once a suitable parking spot has been located. The driver can then choose whether she wants to remain inside, or exit the vehicle. The system is functional while the vehicle is moving at speeds of up to 19 miles per hour, and automatically handles gear shifts, steering and braking.
The system is a natural extension of Ford’s Active Parking Assist which provides automated parallel parking while the driver is seated in the vehicle.
The Obstacle Avoidance system automatically applies the brakes or steers around other vehicles, pedestrians and other obstacles that might venture into the vehicle’s path.
Ford is by no means the originator of these technologies. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class sedans feature similar systems, but Ford promises to make the technology available for a broader audience.
According to Ford, the average parking space is between 7.5 feet and 9.0 feet wide, but the average vehicle is now 25 percent wider than it was a quarter century ago which has made parking more challenging.
Ford’s Fully Assisted Parking Aid will benefit seniors, who tend to drive larger vehicles, as well as those who live in older homes with narrower garages.
Ford’s Obstacle Avoidance technology uses externally-mounted ultrasonic sensors and a camera to help motorists avoid colliding with objects in the vehicle’s trajectory by alerting the driver of the potential danger, and then automatically braking or steering the vehicle to safety. According to Ford, one third of drivers who sense an impending impact fail to take evasive actions.