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How Do Self-Parking Systems Work?

posted on Oct 06 2009 by Kyle McWilton

How Do Self-Parking Systems Work?

Yesterday, we had a look at Volvo's City Braking System. So to continue the theme of 'things that make driving easier', today, we'll try and uncover how self-parking systems work.

How do they work?

Using Audi's new A3 as an example, with its ultrasonic sensors, the system monitors longitudinal parking spaces at speeds below 19mph, and if it detects that a space is sufficiently large to reverse into, the driver is alerted via the dashboard mounting DIS (driver information system). If the driver then engages reverse gear and touches the accelerator pedal, the Park Assist system takes over the electromechanical steering and automatically steers the car into the space in one manoeuvre.

The driver can hand over complete control of the steering wheel to the car, and only has to operate the accelerator, the clutch and the brake for obvious safety reasons. Audible chimes that increase in frequency depending on proximity to cars in front and behind allow the driver to position the car perfectly in the space once the Ahands-free' steering input has been completed.Different self-parking systems have different ways of sensing the objects around the car.

Some have sensors distributed around the front and rear bumpers of the car, which act as both transmitters and receivers. These sensors transmit signals, which bounce off objects around the car and reflect back to them. The car's computer then uses the amount of time that it takes those signals to return to calculate the location of the objects. Others systems have cameras mounted onto the bumpers or use radar to detect objects.

The end result is the same: the car detects the other parked cars, the size of the parking space and the distance to the curb, then steers it into the space. Self-parking cars currently on the market are not completely autonomous. The driver still regulates the speed of the vehicle. Once the process begins, the on-board computer system take over the steering wheel.So all in all, it seems like a very useful feature for those people who are not comfortable parallel parking.

Just because it's useful does that make it good

I think parking is part of the driving experience. The skill needed to squeeze your car into a tight spot is a very useful one. Especially around towns and cities. And the feeling of gliding your car into a space in one sweep is a nice one.Handing the responsibility of parking your car over to a computer just feels a bit strange to me. Ask yourself, would you trust a computer to park your brand new Mercedes?