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Active Park Assist  (Source: Ford)
The Lincoln MKS and MKT will be the firs Ford vehicles to get the new parking assist service

Much of the buzz surrounding the automotive industry has centered on the dire financial straits the big three have found themselves in and electric/hybrid vehicles. Going more unnoticed is the new technology that automakers like Ford are integrating into their vehicles to make them safer for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

We have all sat, watched, and waited while someone tried in vain to parallel park their vehicle. Starting in mid-2009, an option for the Lincoln MKS Sedan and MKT crossover will be a new system Ford calls Active Park Assist. The system uses a series of ultrasonic sensors arrayed at the corners of the vehicles to sense the position of the vehicle in relation to others around it.

Working in conjunction with the sensors, an Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) system activates to position the vehicle for parallel parking. The system will calculate the optimal steering angle and quickly steer the vehicle into the parking spot autonomously.

"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."

Ford says that its ultrasonic sensor based system is much more effective than similar parking assist systems that use cameras like Lexus vehicles feature. The Parking Assist system takes care of the steering control for the car, but the driver is required to shift gears and control throttle and braking.

A visual and/or audible interface keeps the driver aware of the proximity of other cars, objects, and people and will change the instructions as needed to safely park the vehicle. At any time, the driver can interrupt the parking assist system by grabbing the steering wheel.

Ford says that there is more to the EPAS system than simply offering help when parallel parking the vehicle. The EPAS system is said to improve fuel economy by up to 5% and reduce CO2 emissions at the same time. Steering performance is enhanced when compared to hydraulic systems in use on most cars today according to Ford. The automaker says it plans to fit 90% of its production vehicles with the EPAS system by 2012.

Ford's Ali Jammoul said in a statement, "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. This is technology not for the sake of technology, but technology designed to meet the needs and wants of customers."

This technology will be offering in conjunction with other Ford safety systems on some of the company's vehicles. Other systems include the Blind Spot Identification System. Ford unveiled its Collision Warning with Brake Support system in October of 2008. Ford isn’t clear on if the Collision Warning System will be offered alongside the other technologies for parking and blind spot detection.

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RE: More please.
By FITCamaro on 12/30/2008 3:12:24 PM , Rating: 2
Already have doors that open themselves on minivans and SUVs.

All this automatic crap is just more sh*t that will eventually break and you'll pay out the butt to replace. Personally I don't even want power seats. I'm not so lazy that I can't pull a lever or turn a knob. Power windows are about the only power feature I truly want. Because its hard to reach across the car and roll the other one down.

RE: More please.
By Smilin on 12/30/2008 5:27:16 PM , Rating: 2
Your power seats suck then.

I've got some 8-way seats that I can get just right. When the Mrs. or someone changes it then the next time I hit my unlock button on my key fob it returns to all my settings as I'm approaching the car.

Maybe it's just me but I'm reeeeaaally picky about how my seat is positioned. If it's not the way I want I end up fussing with it for days before I get it right again (or just finally become used to the new position).

I've really gotten used to automatic night mode on the rearview mirror too. It's just something I never think about. Auto wipers still require manual input but they handle all that "intermittent wiper" stuff so know how you can never seem to get itermittent to match exactly how much rain is coming?

Environmental systems (good ones) are the bomb too. I literally haven't touched my environmental controls in least two or three seasons.

All in all I love all the automatic goo on my cars. They are just really pleasant to have and it relaxes the driving experience not worrying about so many trivial things. Plus...mmmm seat warmers in the winter.

Oh, and none of it has broken yet. It's 99% electronics which just don't wear as much as mechanical stuff.

RE: More please.
By FITCamaro on 12/30/2008 9:37:03 PM , Rating: 2
What does me wanting manual seating adjustments have to do with the quality of my seats? And you can have 8 way adjustable seats with levers and knobs. You're just too lazy to pull a lever or turn a knob.

My GTOs seats are extremely good and comfortable. I just would prefer manual seat adjustments so I don't ever have to worry about motors wearing out.

Sorry but I'm not lazy and can remember to flip the mirror to night mode, to lock my doors, and to turn on my windshield wipers or set what speed I want them at. Personally I hate it that when I turn it on intermittent, if I'm going over a certain speed, it increases the speed at which the wipers cycle automatically. So when its barely raining and I'm doing 70, they're going full speed.

I swear people are so lazy it isn't even funny. And we wonder why the accident rate has skyrocketed.

RE: More please.
By Smilin on 12/31/2008 1:20:00 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, that must be it. I'm too lazy to pull a lever. Yes that is sooooo much work. None of this has anything to do with laziness so spare me the lectures and I'll stay off your lawn.

Seriously the 8-way power seats rock not because they are's because they are 8-way and because they have seat memory. Your GTO manual seat might be very comfortable but I guarantee if you let my Wife drive it then you won't think so afterwards. She wrecks my seat settings. I don't worry about the motors burning out's not a GM dude.

The auto's not about setting them at whatever speed. You still have high-low-auto instead of high-low-intermittent. No, the beautiful thing about auto wipers is that intermittent wipers suck so badly. They are never at the right speed to keep your windshield clean without being annoying (which you just agreed). Auto wipers fix that.

It's all about having a pleasant driving experience. When you combine all this stupid little non-driving BS things that need performed it degrades the experience of having a nice car to drive. Some things are better when not auto IMHO like the transmission. That's a manual process that adds to the driving experience rather than detracting from it... mind you GOOD paddle shifters are nice too :)

Oh and BTW. All this "auto" crap reduces distractions which all other things being equal will reduce accidents. I don't have to touch sh1t when I drive my car. No wipers, no mirrors, no seats, no heat/ac.

RE: More please.
By spread on 12/31/2008 11:34:10 AM , Rating: 2
Explain to me how a powered seat is "99% electronics".

You do realize there are gears and levers inside the thing. The torques required to move the bulk need massive motors. Instead, the seat was designed with smaller motors hooked up to gears. Same torque at the cost of speed.

The levers are used to lock the gears in place.

RE: More please.
By Smilin on 12/31/2008 1:08:22 PM , Rating: 2
Who said powered seats are 99% electronics? Go read the whole post before you pre-bunch your panties. Geez.

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