Ford's Active Park Assist will be a boon to those drivers—you know who you are—who just can't get their brains around parallel parking no matter how hard they try, or their partners try to teach them. That's because it does the steering, which is frankly the only hard bit.
Ford's claiming that its system is easier to use than camera-based parking assist devices, that it's a more intelligent system, and requires less driver-input to the car controls. It uses ultrasonic sensors dotted around the vehicle perimeter to assess the parking situation: then you simply press a dashboard button to give it command authority, and take your hands off the wheel. The new electric-assisted power steering then maneuvers the car, giving you visual and audio commands about what to do with the transmission, brake and the gas pedal. Clever: as Ford notes "While the steering is all done automatically, the driver remains responsible for safe parking and can interrupt the system by grasping the steering wheel." That places the blame for fender benders right in the driver's lap.
The new system will be available as an option on the 2010 Lincoln MKS and MKT, but Ford notes that it will be fitted to 90% of the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle fleet by 2012. Start planning to buy a Ford, bad parkers of the world.