How do self-parking systems work?
With increases in traffic and the demand for parking spaces multiplying in urban areas, self-parking systems are now installed in many new model vehicles. The systems work by an autonomous manoeuvering capability that allows the car to move from a traffic lane and automatically fits it into a perpendicular, parallel or angled parking space.
The manoeuvre is achieved by taking into account a number of variables including the steering angle and speed in conjunction with the environment. With the use of sensors the onboard technology co-ordinates a number of control commands to ensure no collision occurs in the available space, and this is known as a nonholonomic system.
With the need to park cars in ever more congested areas the use of parallel parking can become an ordeal for many drivers. The need for this vital skill can be fraught with difficulties even for experienced drivers who may be under pressure to park quickly and accurately.
This is where self-parking provides a speedy and more accurate solution that is not subject to human error and which can actually make more spaces available for drivers by the use of precision parking. By simply pressing a button, drivers can take the stress out of parking and sit back and let a computer do the work. The technology has advanced considerably since first introduced and is part of the research that is behind other innovative and ongoing advancements in collision avoidance and self-driving cars that are likely to be available in the not too distant future.
Another factor in the prevalence of self-parking vehicles is to do with customer demand, particularly with population growth in cities and other major areas of business and commerce. Taking away the need to parallel park or fit a car into a small space every day is obviously very appealing to many drivers and takes away one of the, often nerve-wracking, tasks of the working day for drivers.
Obviously another benefit is that cars remain in a more pristine condition without the scratches and dents that are incurred by the mishaps that can happen whilst trying to steer into a difficult spot. This in turn removes the need for insurance claims, and saves money for drivers in the long run.
As with most technology development, improvements happen incrementally over time, and the same is true with self-parking devices to a certain extent. Although the technology has come on in leaps and bounds it is still a work in progress and is not yet infallible. In a series of tests by 'Carbuyer' some models performed better than others and a number of ranges featured as more sophisticated than others:
- Mercedes: Powerful and seamless parking but the car undertook a large number of movements to get into a space - fairly effective nevertheless.
- Peugeot 3008: System worked speedily and efficiently to get in and out of parking spaces although extremely close to the corresponding vehicles, and a need to indicate in the direction you wish to park.
- Citroen C4 Space Tourer: Effective steering into bay spaces and also parallel parking with good co-ordination in tight gaps and fitted with a 360 degree camera system.
- BMW 5 Series Saloon: As a large saloon car, parking in a tight space could be stress-inducing with this model. The self-parking mechanism is very efficient for narrow spaces but rather slow to get parked up.
- Volkswagen Golf Hatchback: the ever popular Golf now has the technology to differentiate between a number of types of parking space and is particularly good at bay parking, however, the system can sometimes disengage if changed from drive to reverse too quickly.
- Volvo XC60 SUV: Renowned for their car design the Scandinavian manufacturer also excels at self-parking devices making it very streamlined in bay and parallel parking situations.
- Ford Fiesta Hatchback: this vehicle can tackle a number of tricky parking situations in parallel or bay parking and can deal with spaces 20% longer or wider and can get you in and out of very tight gaps.
Do the research!
Ultimately the technology will evolve to become more honed and refined with each new batch of cars that are produced. Therefore, although many are finding the self-parking technology a huge boon when driving there are some systems that are more effective than others.
The message for drivers is to do the research on each new brand of car and assess the reviews on reputable car websites and consumer sites to find the car that is most adapted to the driving conditions and environment for individual needs, and which has the self-parking technology that seems the most effective.