Ford Motor's flagship sedan `Lincoln MKS' and the new `Lincoln MKT' seven-passenger luxury crossover will on its own do the stressful and frustrating task of parallel parking at the pressing of a button thanks to an exclusive new technology called `Active Park Assist'.
Available in mid-2009 as an option on the 2010 Lincoln MKS sedan and new Lincoln MKT crossover, Active Park Assist uses an ultrasonic-based sensing system and Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) to position the vehicle for parallel parking, calculate the optimal steering angle and quickly steer the vehicle into a parking spot, Ford said in website release.
''With the touch of a button, Lincoln MKS and MKT drivers can parallel park quickly, easily and safely without ever touching the steering wheel,'' said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development. ''This is another example of exclusive Ford smart technology, such as Ford SYNC, that makes the driving experience easier and more enjoyable for our customers.''
Active Park Assist system uses sensors on the front and rear of the vehicle to guide the vehicle into a parking space. The technology is a major leap forward in speed and ease of use compared with the camera-reliant systems offered by competitors, including a video camera-based system offered by Lexus. Ford's system requires less driver interface and reduces the risk of selecting a parking spot that is too tight. Ford's Active Park Assist also works in downhill parking situations, unlike competing systems.
Here's 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 can interrupt the system by grasping the steering wheel, if needed.
In addition to helping with parallel parking, Ford said its EPAS technology improves fuel economy up to 5 per cent, while reducing CO2 emissions and enhancing steering performance compared with traditional hydraulic powered-assisted steering systems. EPAS saves fuel primarily because the steering system is powered by an electric motor connected to vehicle's battery, as opposed to engine-mounted hydraulic pump steering systems.
By 2012, Ford plans to fit nearly 90 per cent of the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury line-up with EPAS.
''As we use advanced technology like Electric Power Assisted Steering to improve the fuel efficiency across our vehicle lineup, we have the opportunity to introduce new comfort and convenience innovations like Active Parking Assist,'' said Ali Jammoul, Ford's chief engineer for chassis engineering and steering systems. ''This is technology not for the sake of technology, but technology designed to meet the needs and wants of customers.''
In addition, Ford is working on using EPAS and other sensors for other smart technologies, including one that could prevent a vehicle from drifting out of lane on the highway.
The new Lincoln MKT seven-passenger luxury crossover will debuts at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this month.
The Lincoln MKS sedan – which went on sale this summer features:
Adaptive Cruise Control, which allows the driver to set and maintain the vehicle's speed, while a radar monitors traffic ahead. This optional system automatically adjusts speed and slows the vehicle to maintain the set distance behind traffic ahead.
Intelligent Access with Push Button Start, which allows the driver to enter the Lincoln MKS and start the engine without using the key. Drivers simply carry the special fob as they approach the vehicle, touch the keyless entry keypad on the B-pillar, open the door and, with the brake pedal engaged, start the engine by pushing a button.
SecuriCode Keyless Entry Keypad, which is the next generation of a feature familiar to many Lincoln owners. It allows access to Lincoln MKS by unlocking the driver's door by entering a pre-set five-digit code. The newest version is now flush-mounted to the B-pillar with backlit numerals that illuminate to the touch.
Adaptive Headlamps with Standard High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps, which enhance nighttime visibility by illuminating more of the road ahead. Sensors monitor the vehicle's speed and steering wheel input to engage headlamp movement and increase the driver's field of vision.
Rain-Sensing Wipers, which use an optical sensing system to gauge precipitation and automatically activate and adjust the wipers. The Lincoln MKS driver can choose among five sensitivity settings.
EasyFuel Capless Fuel-Filler System, which provides a hassle-free and more consistent seal than a manual fuel cap. EasyFuel self seals when refueling is complete.
SYNC, a voice activated communications and entertainment system developed by Ford and Microsoft, fully integrates Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital media players into the vehicle.
Ford Motors, America's No.2 automaker, is investing increasingly in new technologies as it fights to stave off bankruptcy.
Among Detroit's automakers, Ford is considered the best positioned to weather the industry slump and has said it does not need federal loans to survive, but its sales have withered and its stock has plunged.