During the Forward with Ford 2011 conference, I had a chance to get hands-on with Ford’s Active Park Assist, and it reminded me a lot of Knight Rider!
How active park assist works:
- The driver activates the system by pressing an instrument panel button, which activates the ultrasonic sensors to measure and identify a feasible parallel parking space
- The system then prompts the driver to accept the system assistance to park
- The steering system then takes over and steers the car into the parking space hands-free. The driver still shifts the transmission and operates the gas and brake pedals
- A visual and/or audible driver interface advises the driver about the proximity of other cars, objects and people and provides instructions
- While the steering is all done automatically, the driver remains responsible for safe parking and can interrupt the system by grasping the steering wheel
Active park assist is enabled by Ford’s advanced EPAS technology. In addition to helping with parallel parking, EPAS improves fuel economy up to 5 percent, while reducing CO2 emissions and enhancing steering performance compared with traditional hydraulic power-assisted steering systems. EPAS saves fuel primarily because the steering system is powered by an electric motor connected to the vehicle’s battery, as opposed to engine-mounted hydraulic pump steering systems.
By 2012, Ford plans to fit nearly 90 percent of the Ford and Lincoln line-up with EPAS.
So on the last day of the event, we got to spend the morning on the test track, trying various vehicles and seeing technology (but more of that in a later post). I was quite intrigued with active park assist because I had heard of it before, but I hadn’t actually seen it working and I wasn’t sure just how good it would be. After all, if it went horribly wrong and I hit another car would my insurance company accept that “I didn’t do it”?
This isn’t new technology – its been around for about 2 years now, but Ford plan to have it in more vehicles and are making it better each time.
So I jumped in the car to give it a go – and you see how I did in the video below (a special thanks to Jennifer Moore of Ford for taking the video).
I have to say I was very impressed – it worked really well and by the end I felt confident enough to let the system do it’s job and park for me. It didn’t hurt that the first time I tried it I was in someone else’s car! And all the time I was humming the Knight Rider theme tune to myself in my head.