Parking assistants have been around for a long time. Like so many other thing, however, they’re now no longer made of flesh and blood, but have been replaced by electronic systems. But that’s not the only change. In the not-too-distant future, such systems will be able to park cars completely on their own.
Almost all car manufacturers are now working on electronic parking systems that do a lot more than just beep when things get tight. Even self-steering parking assistance systems, only requiring drivers to operate gear stick, gas and brake pedal, will soon be a thing of the past.
Drivers of the future will be able to leave the unpleasant task of parking entirely to their cars. And when they need the car again, it will drive up on its own ─ just like the horse in an old western, when the sheriff whistles.
Bosch and Mercedes-Benz are now teaching cars to obey such a “whistle”. Together with the car sharing company Car2go, the aim is to develop a smartphone-based collection and delivery service.
The self-steering vehicles maneuver their way around suitably equipped car park buildings using a control unit from Bosch and the latest on-board sensors from Mercedes-Benz.
Park assist with Smartwatch or Display key
BMW presented its vision for fully-automatic parking at the beginning of this year. The driver starts Remote Valet Parking for a BMW i3 using a Smartwatch. Four laser scanners identify any obstacles on the way to a parking space. The new parking system is not reliant on a GPS signal. Instead, the laser sensors generate a type of digital plan of the vehicle’s location. When the driver needs the i3 again, a voice command is sufficient to ensure that the vehicle arrives at the car park exit at exactly the right time. However, it may be some time before drivers can actually use these fully-automated parking systems.
Until then, drivers will need to sit inside the vehicle and use assisted parking, or park the car via remote control. The BMW 7 will be the first series-produced car to master this feat. Starting this fall, drivers can purchase an optional self-parking system for use in tight parking spaces. The driver supervises the parking operation from outside the car.
Remote parking is initiated using the newly developed Display Key. After that, the car automatically takes care of everything else, braking or stopping when it encounters obstacles. Once the car is neatly in the parking space, the Display Key can be used to switch off the engine and restart it when the vehicle is required again. The parking process is monitored by the Park Distance Control (PDC), the parking assistant and the Surround View sensors.
Audi’s self-parking car is controlled via a smartphone app. For legal reasons, the driver needs to keep pressing a “safety button” during the entire operation. The vehicle, however, steers, brakes and selects the gears on its automatic transmission fully independently.
In future, Ford drivers will also be able to watch their cars being parked, and with no risk of scratches. The “Fully Assisted Parking Aid” also uses ultrasonic sensors to detect a suitable parking space before it starts the parking process.
Fully automated parking is a further step toward fully-automated driving. Lower speeds and more information, for instance, from a car park infrastructure or the driver’s home garage will enable fast progress to be made in this area.