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Ford Demonstrates Self-Driving Capabilities

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On: Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 3:41PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Demonstrates Self-Driving Capabilities

Autonomous parking isn't even available yet, and it's already becoming old news. Ford joins the likes of Audi, Volvo, and Valeo in demonstrating its latest self-parking advancements. Ford gave attendees of its Ford Futures event in Belgium a look at how Ford vehicles could one day park themselves.

"Behind closed doors at Lommel Proving Ground in Belgium, tomorrow’s Fords are put through the toughest of tests to ensure they can cope with any conditions customers might encounter. Ford is giving media a unique glimpse into the future by opening those doors, showcasing visionary vehicles and technologies coming soon," Ford said of last week's Futures event.

That unique glimpse included a demonstration of what Ford calls its Fully Assisted Parking Aid. The system uses a combination of automated steering, gear selection, and forward and reverse motions to park itself without input from the driver. It is activated at the push of the button, from either the inside of the vehicle or outside, presumably by smartphone in the latter case.

"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."

The Full Assisted Parking Aid builds upon existing Ford technologies such as Active Park Assist and Powershift transmission. The system scans for an empty parking space of proper size and then steers the car into the space, using the Powershift transmission to automatically shift between forward and reverse gears.

Ford also displayed a complementing technology at its Belgium event. If a car were truly to be relied upon to park itself, it would need to be able to sense and react to pedestrians and other obstacles, ensuring the safety of both the vehicle and the people around it. Ford's Obstacle Avoidance system uses automated steering and braking to avoid hitting cars, pedestrians and other obstacles. The system scans up to 200 meters ahead, using a combination of radars, ultrasonic sensors and a camera. It's designed to warn drivers and intervene should the driver not react in time, but it's easy to see how it could also be applied in the driver's absence, such as in self-parking situations.

The two videos below show Ford's demonstrations.

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


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