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Removing the Fear Factor from Parallel Parking

Article created for My Ford Magazine: by Edward Lord

Ford Researchers Want to Put You in a Tight Spot (Literally)

Self-driving cars used to be the stuff of science fiction—they have been depicted in films like I, Robot and Minority Report alongside futuristic technologies like artificial intelligence. While autonomous showroom vehicles remain in the future, Ford of Europe researchers and engineers have been working on a car that is able to park itself on demand—even if the driver is outside the vehicle. The concept is known as Fully Assisted Parking Aid and has been successfully demonstrated in a test-model Focus.

Initiate Self-Parking at the Press of a Button

“By simply pressing a button on the key fob, you can initiate the maneuver that will automatically and autonomously move the car into a parking spot,” says Thomas Lukaszewicz, Supervisor of Global Driver Assistance in Ford of Europe’s Research and Advanced Engineering department. “Using 12 ultrasonic sensors to align itself within the given borders formed by all the obstacles surrounding the parking spot, the car will stop when a final parking position is reached.”

No Need to Reliquish Control

For drivers who may be uneasy about relinquishing total control to the car, Ford has included a failsafe that allows the driver to suspend the process at any moment they choose. “We ensure that the driver is always in control,” says Lukaszewicz. “The driver must be holding down the button on the key fob for it to operate, and as soon as they release the button, the vehicle would stop.”

Ford Ultrasonic Sensors Now at Your Service

At the moment, the technology only exists in the single European test Focus, and Lukaszewicz says it would be “at least 5 years” before it would be available in a commercial Ford product. In the meantime, there’s still Ford’s optional Active Park Assist*, which uses the same ultrasonic sensors to identify viable parking spots and can then take over the wheel while the driver controls shifting and acceleration.

*Driver Assist® features are supplemental and do not replace the driver's judgment.