Automotive

Ford feature selects park-mode even if you forget

Ford feature selects park-mode...
Return to Park debuts as a standard feature in the 2017 Ford Fusion and has been made possible by the inclusion of a rotary shift dial in the vehicle
Return to Park debuts as a standard feature in the 2017 Ford Fusion and has been made possible by the inclusion of a rotary shift dial in the vehicle
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Return to Park debuts as a standard feature in the 2017 Ford Fusion and has been made possible by the inclusion of a rotary shift dial in the vehicle
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Return to Park debuts as a standard feature in the 2017 Ford Fusion and has been made possible by the inclusion of a rotary shift dial in the vehicle
Return to Park detects when a driver is exiting a vehicle and automatically selects the "P" mode
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Return to Park detects when a driver is exiting a vehicle and automatically selects the "P" mode

It's all too easy to forget to put an automatic transmission car in "park," but the consequences of a parked car rolling away can be very serious. To ensure this can't happen, Ford has developed "Return to Park" functionality, which detects when a driver is exiting a vehicle and automatically selects the P mode.

This isn't an entirely new idea. BMW's similar Shiftlock feature, for example, prevents a vehicle's key from being removed from the ignition unless the vehicle is in P mode, while some automatic transmission Mercedes vehicles will engage park mode if a door is opened when the vehicle is stationary or traveling at a low speed. Return to Park uses a similar conditional approach, but is instead based on sensors around the car.

The P mode is engaged if the vehicle's engine is switched off, if the driver's door of a stationary vehicle is opened while the driver is not wearing their safety belt or if the driver takes their safety belt off in a stationary vehicle while their door is open.

The system can also detect if a vehicle's engine has been switched off while the vehicle is moving. In this instance, it will engage neutral until the vehicle slows to less than 5 mph (8 km/h), after which the "P" mode will be enabled.

Return to Park detects when a driver is exiting a vehicle and automatically selects the "P" mode
Return to Park detects when a driver is exiting a vehicle and automatically selects the "P" mode

It won't, however, be enabled if a driver wearing a safety belt opens their door while the vehicle is in motion. This is to accommodate situations such as freeing clothing that is stuck in the door or looking for markings when maneuvering into a parking space.

Return to Park debuts as a standard feature in the 2017 Ford Fusion and has been made possible by the inclusion of a new rotary shift dial in the vehicle. The dial uses the same three-module monitoring system that prevents Ford vehicles from from accidentally being put into reverse at speeds above 5 mph to allow driving modes to be selected.

"When we decided to go with the new rotary shifter for the 2017 Ford Fusion, the team all sat together in a room to see what additional customer benefit we could bring to the table," explains Ford's global e-shift systems technical expert Mark Zyskowski. "We thought about what we could add without getting in the way of normal day-to-day scenarios, and all agreed that a feature to help confirm Park is selected when exiting the vehicle seemed really worthwhile."

Indeed, Ford cites National Highway Transportation Administration figures that indicate there being 360 deaths in US between 2012 and 2014 as a result of accidents involving unattended vehicles with no driver control, which is said to be 19 percent of non-occupant deaths in non-traffic crashes annually. A further 2,000 people per year are said to be injured in similar incidents.

The video below provides an introduction to the Return to Park functionality.

Source: Ford


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8 comments
MD
Does it apply the "hand" (or foot) brake as well... Better safe, yaknow.
piperTom
That 5 mph may seem slow for a car, but it's pretty fast to suddenly lock the wheels. Even if they have engineered the drive-train to withstand the shock, it's going to be a jolt for the people in the car.
Alien
Can this be over-ridden? Here in central Thailand, which is incredibly flat and where extreme traffic congestion even extends to car parks (inc. multi-storey) it is customary to park across the front of other parked vehicles, leaving the locked but with the handbrake off and the gears in neutral, so that the car can be pushed a short distance in order for a blocked car to get out. Ford drivers could become very unpopular here if their cars could not be pushed aside and so blocked-in other parked vehicles. I wonder if Ford have thought about this market?
Lardo
"It's all too easy to forget to put an automatic transmission car in 'park'..." It is? I've been driving 40+ years now. Always with an automatic. (Polio survivor, I'm restricted to an auto.) And I can honestly say have never - not even once - forgotten to put the transmission in 'park'. But take away my shift lever, and give me a shift "dial", and I just might.
jjsmail
My 2016 Fiat 500E does the same thing, and they may have done this for several model years. It puts the car in Park as soon as the driver' door is opened if it is in Drive, Neutral or Reverse.
yawood
My 2007 BMW does that so BMW have had it for at least 10 years.
JohnBaker
Why is this news ... especially new tech news This feature has been on Jaguars for at least 8 years !!!!
ZacMcewen
Yeah BMW have had this for a long time.