Motor company Ford is testing a new system that expands upon its Active Park Assist technology in quite some fashion. Fully Assisted Parking Aid is in the prototype phase and has been built into a working Ford Focus to show what it is capable of.
Where previous parking aids have enabled a driver to relinquish control over the steering wheel, parking semi-automatically with manual input still needed for speed and braking, the new system takes over everything steering, forward and reverse motion, braking and guidance to manoeuvre the vehicle into a space. The driver doesn't even need to be in the car.
The system is activated at the touch of just one button, either in the car or outside via a remote control. That's it. Even the car doors open automatically and stop before touching a car alongside, using built-in sensors.
A suitable space is found using ultrasonic sensors and the Fully Assisted Park Aid can locate one at speeds of up to 30km/h (just over 18mph). The driver needs to keep their finger pressed on the button for the duration of the parking action, so can abort at any point by just lifting off.
Ford also states that because its parking systems can manoeuvre vehicles into spaces just 20 per cent longer than the overall vehicle length, this could free up parking space lost to inefficient parking if multiple cars feature the new technology: such as in a business fleet car park, for example.
The only issue is when Ford will feel confident to take the technology out of the prototype phase. There is currently no time-frame on a consumer launch.
"The key is that we already have the technologies that put us in a position where we could one day make fully automated parking a reality for Ford customers," said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice-president Ford Research and Innovation.
"Fully Assisted Parking Aid could provide additional benefit to drivers with reduced mobility, including disabled and elderly drivers, as well as customers who face difficult reverse-parking manoeuvres in busy and narrow streets every day."