Check out Ford's fully automated self-parking car [w/video]Wed, 09 Oct 2013 15:01:00 EST
As automakers continue to find uses for autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle technology, Ford of Europe has announced that it is developing a self-parking system for future use. More advanced than the Active Park Assist already offered in many Ford products, the new Fully Assisted Parking Aid can take full control of the vehicle and can navigate angled and perpendicular parking spots.
While today's Active Park Assist can only parallel park with the driver controlling the gas, brake and gear selection, Fully Assisted Parking Aid can operate steering, gas, brake and gear selection all while making sure the car is properly parked in the intended space. As with APA, the driver pushes a button to make the car look for a proper spot (at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour), and when an adequate space is located, the operator pushes another button (either inside the car or outside via remote control) for the car to park itself – the button must be pressed throughout the whole parking maneuver. Even though Ford says that the car can effect gear selections on its own, the system must still start from Neutral, and the automaker isn't saying whether the car can put itself into Park when done or put itself in Drive when the operator is ready to go.
Ford is also taking the opportunity to announce its new Obstacle Avoidance technology. This automated system is able to detect objects – including pedestrians – in the road, warn drivers of said objects and, if needed, stop and steer automatically to avoid hitting the obstacle. Both systems are still in the prototype phase, so there is no word as to when we could see either on a production vehicle.
Scroll down to watch the Fully Assisted Parking Aid in action (both in CGI and in real-world testing) demonstrated on a Ford Focus, and also check out press releases for both this self-parking and the Obstacle Avoidance system.
Ford Developing New Automated Parking System that Enables Push-Button Parking From Inside or Outside of the Vehicle
- Ford is developing automated parking technology to enable customers to park at the touch of a button from inside or outside of their car
- Ford's Fully Assisted Parking Aid prototype controls steering, gear selection and forward and reverse motion to facilitate push-button parking
- Fully Assisted Parking Aid builds on existing Ford technologies such as Active Park Assist and Ford Powershift transmissions
LOMMEL, Belgium, Oct. 8, 2013 – Ford Motor Company is developing a new automated parking technology that could enable drivers to park with only the push of a button from inside or outside of their car.
The technology called Fully Assisted Parking Aid is currently in the prototype phase and controls steering, gear selection, and forward and reverse motion to facilitate push-button parking. Ford is demonstrating the technology to journalists for the first time this week at its proving grounds in Lommel, Belgium, and a video demonstration can be viewed here.
"Parking in today's cities can be stressful and difficult," said Barb Samardzich, vice president, Product Development, Ford of Europe. "We want to make it as easy, efficient and accurate as possible – and that means exploring new concepts and approaches."
Experts from Ford's Research and Advanced Engineering organisation are harnessing advances made in existing Ford technologies, such as Active Park Assist and Ford Powershift transmission, to deliver the next generation of parking technology – Fully Assisted Parking Aid.
Ford Powershift transmission is able to electronically control forward and reverse gear changes without physical driver input, while Active Park Assist can scan for appropriately-sized parking spaces and steer a car into that space.
Fully Assisted Parking Aid would detect a suitable parallel parking space using ultrasonic sensors. The driver would then activate the system by taking the car out of gear (putting it into neutral) and pushing a button either from inside the car or outside by remote control. The system would then take control of the steering, forward and reverse motion, braking and guidance to manoeuvre the vehicle into the space.
Fully Assisted Parking Aid would locate parking spaces at speeds of up to 30 km/h and require the driver to retain pressure on the button for the duration of the manoeuvre, enabling them to cancel or override the system at any time.
And because Ford's parking systems can manoeuvre vehicles into spaces just 20 per cent longer than the overall vehicle length – Fully Assisted Parking Aid could free-up parking space lost to inefficient parking if utilised on a large number of vehicles.
Ford recently unveiled the all-new Ford S-MAX Concept featuring a number of next-generation technologies including an advanced version of Active Park Assist with perpendicular parking capability – a system that could be further utilised by Fully Assisted Parking Aid to help drivers effortlessly manoeuvre into compact parking spaces and garages.
"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."
Ford Reveals Test Cars That Can Park at the Touch of a Button and Avoid Collisions with Vehicles or Pedestrians
- Ford reveals test cars with Fully Assisted Parking Aid and Obstacle Avoidance prototype technologies at Ford Futures – a showcase of Ford's forthcoming vehicles, features and research
- Ford is developing Fully Assisted Parking Aid to enable drivers to park at the touch of a button from inside or outside their car. Obstacle Avoidance technology uses automatic steering and braking to avoid collisions with vehicles and pedestrians
- Ford also shows S-MAX Concept, the company's vision for a future sport activity vehicle. All-new Mondeo Vignale Concept provides a first look at the upscale Vignale experience with unique design touches, premium craftsmanship, exclusive specification and technologies
- Focus Electric, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and Mondeo Hybrid will offer Ford customers a full range of electrified vehicles by 2014
- Ford SYNC with AppLink will offer voice-activated apps including Spotify, TomTom and Hotels.com
LOMMEL, Belgium, Oct. 8, 2013 – Ford Motor Company today revealed for the first time technology developed to enable drivers to park at the touch of a button from inside or outside their car; and also a prototype system that uses automatic steering and braking to avoid collisions with vehicles or pedestrians.
Experts from Ford's Research and Advanced Engineering organisation have harnessed advances made in existing Ford technologies Active Park Assist and Ford Powershift to deliver a Ford Focus test car equipped with prototype Fully Assisted Parking Aid system. The next-generation parking technology controls steering, gear selection and forward and reverse motion to facilitate push-button parking that can even be operated by remote control.
Ford has also revealed Obstacle Avoidance technology developed as part of a Ford-led and European-funded research project. Ford's Obstacle Avoidance-equipped Focus test vehicle issues warnings first if it detects slow-moving objects, stationary obstacles or pedestrians in the same lane ahead. If the driver fails to steer or brake following those warnings the system will then automatically steer and brake to avoid a collision. Both technologies were today demonstrated for the first time at Ford's test facilities in Lommel, Belgium.
"The future for Ford means developing innovative products and technologies – including Fully Assisted Parking Aid and Obstacle Avoidance – that help deliver a safer, more convenient, more desirable, more personalised and greener driving and ownership experience," said Barb Samardzich, vice president Product Development, Ford of Europe. "Ford is focussed on making sure the vehicles, technologies and features we develop better meet changing customer expectations and values."
Ford revealed the two new research technologies alongside forthcoming vehicles and features including:
- Ford S-MAX Concept which builds upon the current S-MAX's style-without-compromise ethos with sleek design, premium craftsmanship, smart technologies and a more flexible interior; also features connectivity and wellness technology including the Ford ECG Heart Rate Monitoring Seat
- All-new Ford Mondeo Vignale Concept which provides a first glimpse of Ford's vision for the unique upscale Vignale experience that is scheduled for launch in early 2015. Offers unique design touches, high quality craftsmanship, exclusive specification, advanced technologies and an exclusive purchase and ownership experience.
- Focus Electric, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and Mondeo Hybrid cars that will, by the end of 2014, offer customers a full range of electrified vehicles
- Ford SYNC with AppLink. Spotify, TomTom navigation and Hotels.com are among voice-activated apps which will enable drivers to stay connected on the move, and keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel
Ford's futuring experts have identified an increasing consumer demand worldwide for "Sanity Savers" – technology and features which make life easier, and also a greater customer focus on "Ethical Consumption" as purchases tend more to reflect personal values.
"Car-buyers are placing a growing emphasis on the ownership experience, on purchases that keep them connected on the move and that also reflect their beliefs – trends that will have a profound effect on the vehicles, features and services they will choose in the future," said Sheryl Connelly, manager, Ford Global Trends and Futuring. "Ford Futures sends a clear signal that Ford is moving in harmony with these global trends."
Further Ford technologies on show at Ford Futures, that takes place as Ford celebrates the 100th anniversary of its moving assembly line, include:
- MyKey technology, which enables parents to place restrictions on younger drivers to promote safety
- Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance, which can alert local emergency services operators to an accident in 26 languages, spoken in 40 European regions
- New techniques for the volume production of lightweight carbon fibre car components
"Ford Motor Company has always been one of the world's leading pioneers and forward-thinkers," added Samardzich. "From the introduction of a whole new way of mass producing cars 100 years ago to the advanced safety and convenience features unveiled today, we continue to set the template and define the future for drivers and the automotive environment."
By Jeffrey N. Ross
See also: Next-gen Ford Cobra Jet development underway, but will it be a Mustang?, How and why Ford is rolling out Vignale in Europe, Ford recalling nearly 24,000 Focus EV and C-Max models over door chime.