By Sean Gagnier, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Oct. 9, 2013) — Ford Motor Co. is developing a self-parking car that can deal with narrow parking spots — with or without a driver behind the wheel.
The technology, called Fully Assisted Parking Aid, is being tested on a track in Belgium. Though it has not been officially tied to any vehicle, the company says it's interested in integrating the technology in the future.
"Imagine you're in a parking garage and the only spot available is too small to open your door," Ford spokesman Scott Fosgard said in an interview. "This would let you get out, and it would park for you. Then when you want to leave, it pulls out and lets you in."
To do this, the vehicle would use ultrasonic sensors to scan the area for either diagonal or perpendicular parking spaces at speeds up to 18 mph, allowing the driver enough time to not bypass the space.
The driver would then put the vehicle in neutral and then push a button, from either inside the car or outside via remote. The vehicle would then have control of the steering, acceleration, braking and guidance systems to move itself into the space.
This differs from Ford's current Active Park Assist, which takes control of the steering wheel when pulling into parallel parking spaces only. The driver must still apply the gas and brakes as the vehicle does not have control over those features.
The new system has control of all of the vehicle functions, including gas/brake and steering wheel and can pull into diagonal parking spaces.
Ford also unveiled a new "obstacle avoidance" system that automatically brakes and steers to prevent the vehicle from a collision. The system will detect impending collisions up to 650 feet ahead using three radars, ultrasonic sensors and a camera to scan the road. It has been tested at about 40 mph.
"This is maneuvering at speed," Mr. Fosgard said. "Try to imagine yourself on a highway at night and someone changes lanes without their turn signal. Now you might be able to try to swerve and minimize the damage, but this system should be able to prevent it."
The avoidance system would first alert the driver to the obstacle ahead with a visual warning and a chime. If the driver does not apply the brakes, the vehicle does it on its own and scans for gaps on either side of the obstacle to avoid a collision.
To view a video of the Fully Assisted Parking Aid technology at work, click here.
This report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.