Hands Free Parallel Parking and Trophy’s for Driving Better… Ford + Technology = Great Experience

Pigs must have learned how to fly… this car is driving itself! Don’t throw out the “yep, crazy” card, yet, as Ford has transformed the most frustrating and feared part of Driver’s Ed into an every day driving a breeze. Parallel parking is forced to dethrone itself from the “champion of driving challenges” when facing the new Fords that come with Active Park Assist.

Ford Park Assist is a hands free technology that uses an ultrasonic-based sensing system and electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) to position the vehicle for parallel parking, calculating the perfect steering angle and quickly steering the vehicle into a parking spot at the touch of a button.

Here’s how you’ll be using it:

  • You will activate the system by pressing the park assist button on the instrument panel. This activates the ultrasonic sensors to measure and identify a reasonable parallel parking space.
  • The steering system will take over and will steer the car into the parking space without you having to even touch the steering wheel.
  • Although hands free, you will be prompted to shift the transmission and operate the gas and brake pedals.
  • Visual and audible cues will prompt you about your proximity to other cars, objects and people and will provide instructions to avoid accidents.
  • While the steering is all done automatically, you remain responsible for safe parking and can interrupt the system by grasping the steering wheel.

Pretty cool, huh?

Park Assist is part of Ford’s advanced EPAS technology. In addition to helping with parallel parking, EPAS will include EcoMode Driver Assist on future 2012 vehicles, with the 2012 Ford Focus being the first announced to support the feature. EcoMode monitors engine rpm, vehicle speed, accelerator position, clutch position, selected gear and engine temperature and saves this information to compare the driving habits of the driver over time with the aim to improve those habits. EcoMode awards improvements with congratulatory messages and gives out trophies for vast improvements.  Yes — Trophies!

Cars that drive themselves and encourage you to drive better, who would have thought?

Thomas Schick, an engineer with the Ford of Germany Core Vehicle Integration team who helped design the software helped to come up with all of these new gadgets that would make MacGyver proud.  Schick comments; “The foot of the driver has one of the biggest impacts on real-world fuel economy of a vehicle and was the starting point for the development of EcoMode. This is a useful tool that creates awareness between personal behavior and fuel consumption and offers up hints on how to improve. Applying those hints and recommendations is all up to the driver.”

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