The Self-Parking Cars Will Be a Reality Before Self-Driving Cars Thanks to Ford
Ford's Cross Traffic Alert With Braking. (Image: The Ford Motor Company)
We may be a full decade away from fully autonomous cars, but by 2018 there is a good chance that your next Ford Sedan or SUV will be able to take the strain, at least when it comes to parking.
A 2016 BMW 7 Series can park itself, whether the owner is at the wheel or not, simply with the press of a button on the key fob. Likewise, a Mercedes E-Class can swerve to avoid a collision at 120mph without first consulting the driver.
All of which is great for those with over $100,000 to spend on a new car, but what about the rest of us -- when will these types of next-generation driving aids be trickling down to the mainstream?
Within the next two years, says Ford, who is currently putting new collision avoidance, object detection and parking assist features through their paces at its Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany.
And according to driver surveys, they can't arrive soon enough. Nearly half of drivers in the UK alone are prepared to drive beyond their destination if it means avoiding the stress of parallel parking.
"We've all become accustomed to the challenges of driving, but [parking] remains one of the most demanding tasks most of us perform day in, day out," said Torsten Wey, manager, Chassis & Safety Electronics, Ford of Europe.
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Even a carpark is a less than stress-free environment, especially when it belongs to a busy supermarket and is full of shoppers with carts and trolleys wondering between vehicles.
As well as assisting with steering, speed and gear changes when moving in and out of perpendicular and parallel parking spaces, Ford's new parking assist system can also monitor movement around the car so that it doesn't back out into the path of an oncoming vehicle or crossing pedestrians.
Meanwhile, a new evasive steering system is also in the works that will help drivers manoeuvre around slower or stopped vehicles at city speeds if there isn't sufficient space for an emergency stop and a collision is imminent.
"Driver-assist technologies help us all be better drivers because they enhance our ability to see and sense the road around us," said Scott Lindstrom, manager, driver-assist and active safety at Ford.
However, they're designed to remove stress, not responsibility.
"Drivers must remain alert and reactive when behind the wheel but driver assist technology can help," said Edmund King OBE, president, the UK's Automobile Association.
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