Lincoln MKT and MKS receive Ford’s new active park assist

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2010

An automatic parking system is going to be introduced by Ford in its lead Lincoln MKS sedan, on top of the upcoming Lincoln MKT 7-seat luxury crossover, to make parallel parking much easier. Recognized as 'Active Park Assist', the system will be offered in the middle of next year as an option on both models.

At the onset of this year, it was reported that Ford was intending on installing around 90% of its vehicles with electronic steering, and that this electronic steering technology would make easy the implementation of an automatic parking system, like the ones seen in luxury brands such as Lexus.

However, not like camera-based systems utilized in Lexus versions, 'Active Park Assist' employs an ultrasonic-based sensing system and Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) to prep the vehicle for parallel parking, compute the optimal angle for steering and guide the vehicle into a parking spot.

Ford said that the technology is a "major leap forward in speed and ease of use compared with the camera-reliant systems offered by competitors" as the system needs less driver interface and lowers the risk of choosing a parking spot that is too tight, in addition to having the capability to function in downhill parking conditions.

Speaking in practical terms, employing the system itself is relatively straightforward, the driver turns on the system by a simple press of an instrument panel button, which activates the ultrasonic sensors to compute and identify an appropriate parallel parking spot.

After that the system gives the driver the option to accept the system assistance to park, at which point, when accepted, the steering system then takes over and guides the vehicle into the parking spot without much help from the driver.

Similar to other systems, the driver still shifts the transmission and operates the gas and brake pedals as a visual and/or audible driver interface gives the driver advice about the proximity of other cars, objects and people and gives instructions until the park is done. In the event that something untoward happens, the driver can disrupt the system by taking hold of the steering wheel and putting down the brake pedals.

Presently, Ford intends to install even more models with electronic steering, which means that more and more Ford versions should be offered with the Active Park Assist feature in the coming years. Above helping drivers park their vehicles, electronic steering enhances fuel economy up to 5 percent, while lowering CO2 emissions and improving steering performance in contrast with typical steering systems that are assisted by hydraulic power.

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