Parking is a skill that some drivers never perfected. Ford automates the process with Active Park Assist 2.0, now available in several of the company’s SUVs. The technology, a pre-cursor to fully automated driving, can tuck vehicles into parallel and perpendicular spaces without input from the driver. He or she must be ready to take control, of course, but the system manages the steering, brakes, transmission, and accelerator from start to finish.
Ford Active Park Assist 2.0 (APA 2.0) is not a remote system. You sit in the vehicle while it operates, rather than stand outside of it. It doesn’t summon the vehicle to you, either, though Ford could upgrade it to provide that capability in the future. Rather, it builds on existing parking assist technology that steers for the driver by adding the remaining requirements to successfully park a car.
Ford offers Active Park Assist 2.0 on the new 2021 Mustang Mach-E. (Video: Ford)
How does Ford Active Park Assist 2.0 work?
Using sensors located all around the vehicle, Active Park Assist 2.0 can identify an appropriately sized parking space and take control to park the car.
Drivers manually activate the technology by pressing a button. Then, moving forward at a slow rate of speed, the system seeks a parking space. When APA 2.0 finds one, the driver needs to ensure it doesn’t contain broken glass or any other obstacles that the technology may be unable to see.
If the space is clear, the driver shifts the transmission into neutral, and presses and holds the Active Park Assist button. The vehicle takes over, steering, braking, shifting, and accelerating as is necessary to park the car. Of course, the driver must remain vigilant and be ready to take control if necessary.
For many people, APA 2.0 is a gift – especially when it comes to parallel parking. As this article is published, the technology is available on the Ford Escape, Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator, and Lincoln Corsair. Ford plans to offer it on the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, which you can reserve now on the automaker’s consumer website, as well as other future models.
A 2020 Ford Escape parks itself in a parallel space using Active Park Assist 2.0 (Photo: Ford)
Downsides to automated parking
Automated parking systems typically operate at a slower pace and require larger spaces than a skilled driver does. As a result, when used on busy streets or in crowded parking lots, they can irritate impatient motorists.
Specific to APA 2.0, the system requires the driver’s presence in the driver’s seat. Remote parking assist systems from other companies allow you to stand outside of the vehicle while it parks itself in tighter spaces. This is useful when squeezing a car into a space that would prevent exit due to tight clearance, such as a cluttered garage or in a small valet lot.
What about automated parking system liability? According to Reuters, after Tesla recently activated the Smart Summon technology in its vehicles, lawyers told the news agency that drivers will likely hold responsibility for damage to the self-parking vehicle, surrounding vehicles, and infrastructure. Tesla does warn owners that they are responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle in Smart Summon mode, says Reuters.
No doubt, there is fine print associated with Ford Active Park Assist 2.0, so be sure to read it before you use it. And if you’re someone who can’t parallel park to save your life, this technology is perfect for you.