Dearborn, Michigan – Ford has announced a new technology, Active Park Assist, which it will add as an option in mid-2009 to the 2010 Lincoln MKS sedan and upcoming Lincoln MKT crossover. The system parallel parks the vehicle by positioning it, calculating the optimal steering angle, and then steering the vehicle into the parking spot.

“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.”

The system uses ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear of the vehicle, which Ford said is a major leap forward in speed and ease of use when compared with camera-reliant systems such as that on Lexus. Unlike competing systems, the Active Park Assist also works in downhill parking situations.

To operate the system, the driver presses an instrument panel button, which activates the sensors to measure and identify the space. The system prompts the driver to accept the assistance to park; it then steers the car into the space. The driver does not touch the wheel, but still operates the transmission, throttle 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. The driver can interrupt the system by grasping the steering wheel.

The system also uses electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), which Ford said it plans to fit to 90 per cent of its vehicles by 2012. EPAS improves fuel economy by up to five per cent when compared with traditional hydraulic power-assisted systems.

The company said that as it introduces EPAS into more vehicles, it will be able to offer Active Parking Assist in more models. It is also working on using EPAS and other sensors for other technologies, including one that could prevent a vehicle from drifting out of its lane on the highway.

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