In the technology-looking-for-a-purpose race, Fords Active Park Assist has been a front-runner. The almost laughably effective hands-off automatic-parking system has an undeniable wow factor, with just one drawback: seldom in American suburbia does anyone need to parallel park and thats the systems only trick.
Until now. Ford said this week its working on an upgrade to Active Park Assist that will automatically steer you into that regular perpendicular parking space, too. You know, that one at the mall or soccer-field parking lot thats four feet wider than the vehicle yet about 20 percent of the population cant be bothered about fitting into. Get people to actually park their car in a single space? Wow, that sure would cut down the almost daily pegging of our parking-lot-rage meter.
Ford, wink-wink, knows horsehead parking is a problem. Said so (subtly) in its press release:
The idea is not only to make parking as quick as possible, but also to make it as accurate, efficient and undemanding as possible, said Thomas Lukaszewicz, supervisor, research and advanced Engineering, Ford of Europe. The system benefits customers and other road users with its speed and accuracy. Straighter, neater parking means more space for all, he added. Say no more.
Were for anything that can get these nincompoops in the slot. But its gonna take a little extra dose of behavior modification beyond the systems implication that a lot of drivers are terrible at parking or a lot of drivers are just jerks. Thats because youre going to have to get accustomed to always backing into a conventional parking space since it piggybacks on the existing parallel-park systems hardware and software, thats how Ford sees the new generation of Active Park Assist getting you in there.
When they cant pull in forward and get it right, cant wait to see how people react to reversing into that oh-so-skinny parking space. Even if its the electronics that are tackling the challenge.
Bill Visnic, senior editor, Edmunds.com
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