If you can’t do it, the car will: Ford showcases advances in parking assistance and obstacle avoidance

Ford has introduced a new technology that will park your car while you stand beside it and press a button. It’s designed to help you park at the shopping mall or in a tight spot at school. Fully Assisted Parking Aid is an evolution of Active Park Assist, a feature currently available in vehicles like the 2014 Ford Focus that requires the driver to stay put.

Another new technology called Obstacle Avoidance can detect slow-moving and stationary objects (like people) from about 700 feet away. If the object is in your current driving path and you don’t react, the car can take over steering and swerve or apply the brakes. Ford says it has tested the technology at speeds over 38MPH.

The research projects were announced this week in Belgium. There is no set timeframe as to when we’ll see the technology in a Ford or Lincoln car at a dealer near you.

Earlier this year, Audi showcased a similar driverless self-park tech called Piloted Parking at CES 2013 in Las Vegas. Drivers can direct their car to find a parking spot. Ford did not state a range for Fully Assisted Parking Aid but the demonstrations show the driver standing within a few feet, hinting at a Bluetooth connection that covers about 30 feet.

Image: Ford
Ford cars including the 2014 Focus already have Active Park Assist, but the Fully Assisted Parking Aid takes the concept even further.

Obstacle Avoidance also has a precedence with other automakers. In the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E550, for example, the car can also detect objects and apply the brakes. In the 2013 Infiniti Q60, the technology works in reverse: The car can spot an object that appears behind the car.

The Ford research is important because it points to more automated car maneuvers in the future for hands-free driving. And, looking out even further, we may be able to send our car in a driverless mode to pick up the kids or take itself to the gas station. Computers can scan for objects faster than any human and, more importantly, in all directions around the car.

Now if we can just teach them to take the dog for a walk.

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