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Ford offers Lincoln 'Park Assist'

Option for Ford Lincoln models calculates angles, parallel-parks car at the push of a button.

Ford Motor

A new feature from Ford Motor will allow drivers to let their car do the steering when faced with a parallel parking space, the company announced Tuesday.

This latest car gadget, which Ford calls Active Park Assist, works slightly differently than the park assist feature on Toyota's self-parking Lexus.

On the self-parking Lexus, the driver can use an interface to adjust the space the car aims for, and only maintains control over the brake while it's maneuvering.

In Ford's version the driver pulls up alongside a space and pushes a button. The car then applies ultrasonic-based sensors at the four corners of the car to detect its position and that of other street obstacles near the space. It then calculates the optimal steering angles for maneuvering into the space and prompts the driver to give the OK. After the driver pushes the OK button, the EPAS (Electronic Power Assisted Steering) then uses those calculations to automatically steer the car into the spot while the driver maintains control over the shifting, gas, and brake.

The feature will be available as an option on the Lincoln MKS sedan and MKT crossover models starting in mid-2009, according to Ford.

I'm curious to know exactly how tight of a space it's willing to maneuver a roomy Lincoln into.

We'll probably know soon at CNET, as I'm sure the gals and guys in our car review department are already making plans to test out a Lincoln with this latest piece of tech magic.

(Anyone else think it would be funny if Linkin Park sings in the commercial for this Lincoln "Park Assist"?)