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BMW series 5 - self parking feature

Autonomous Vehicles — Good or Bad?

The future of parking your car is a panic-free zone with fewer scratches, dents and scuff marks, but what else are we getting ourselves into?

Do you remember what it was like learning to park a car?

There was no sensors, no 360-degree cameras and certainly no screens on the dashboard with live video footage of the rear and sides of the vehicle.

All you had were the side and rearview mirrors, an anxious parent gripping the door handle tightly, and your wits.

Any attempts at parking as a learner was a sweaty and nerve-racking experience, especially trying to reverse parallel park into a tight spot on a busy main road.

However, thanks to the latest advancements in parking assist technology, these hardships are long gone. 

From ultrasonic sensors and 360-degree birds-eye view angles, to fully automated self-parking vehicles, here’s how technology is driving the future.

Parking sensors

Perhaps the most common form of parking assist are ultrasonic parking sensors, which are installed into the bumpers of the car. 

These small sensors detect the vehicle’s surroundings by sending sound waves that echo back to the sensors, and measures the distance between the car and obstacles on the road.

When the vehicle approaches an obstacle, the driver is alerted with an audible beeping noise which becomes more rapid the closer the car gets to the object.

Parking sensors are usually used in conjunction with parking cameras, which provide a video display of which side is closest to the obstacle.

Parking sensors have been around for quite some time but didn’t really take off until 2003, when Toyota released the Prius.

Parking cameras

Learning to reverse park without any park assists can be a challenging experience.

Not being able to see how close your rear bumper is to the wall or to the vehicle behind you, often required you to step out of the car and double-check the distance.

These days, you can sit in the comfort of your car and enjoy live video footage of what’s behind, in front and all around you.

On top of reverse cameras, you can now get 360-degree bird’s eye view cameras which capture the surroundings of the vehicle and feed it back to the driver through a video display integrated into the dashboard. 

The video display will often feature a projected path based on the steering angle and distance of an object, providing drivers with an optimal steering angle to successfully park the car.

Park assist

In the early days, park assist was very limited with what it could do, struggling to identify obstacles that weren’t other vehicles or large enough, including dogs and pedestrians.

As the years went by, the technology got smarter, combining all the best aspects of ultrasonic sensors and 360-degree cameras. 

Park assist could judge the size of a space and inform the driver whether or not it was a suitable size for the car.

It would provide an optimal projected path needed for the vehicle to be successfully parked through a video display on the dashboard, before taking control of the steering and alerting the driver.

Park assist was as close and you could ever get to automated parking, with drivers only having to accelerate and brake when parking.

Autonomous self-parking

The latest in parking technology makes the rest look like kinder surprise toys. Don’t get us wrong, parking sensors, cameras and assist has served us well, we’ve come along way since the early days of only relying on our own skillset.

But the future has arrived, and in the form of fully self-parking cars. Yes that’s right, your car can actually park itself — ludacris!

These days, sophisticated systems are able to do the whole procedure without any driver intervention at all, and are able to successfully park even the most complex of angles.

The system works by using a wide range of on-board sensors to gauge the size of a space as the vehicle drives past. When the right size space has been located, the driver will hear an alert and instructions will appear on the display screen letting them know where to position the car to begin the park.

With permission from the driver, the car will commence the manoeuvre fully automated and handsfree.

Self-parking cars of 2019

Here are some of the best self-parking cars and their technologies that are currently available.

Audi A8 2018

Taking autonomous driving to a whole new level is the Audi A8 luxury sedan which comes equipped with Remote Garage Pilot and Remote Parking Pilot. What truly makes this car stand out from the rest is the ability to park the car parallel and perpendicular with complete auto-steering while managing the brake and accelerator all by itself. The car can also bring the car out of a parking space and onto the road.

The best part? The driver doesn’t even need to be in the car. It can all be done and monitored using Audi’s smartphone app.

Tesla Model S 2018

From the autonomous driving pioneers who brought you sleeping drivers on the road, we have the Tesla Model S. Using an Enhanced Autopilot system, this vehicle can not only self-park it can also self-drive!

BMW 5 Series 2019

Loaded with a plethora of car features, the BMW 5 Series is a mid-range luxury sedan equipped with parallel and perpendicular park assist, Remote 3D View, Top View and Surround View. Just like the Audi A8, the BMW 5 Series is capable of remote control parking via a smartphone app, allowing drivers to access tighter parking spaces without the need to account for door space.

More autonomy, less responsibility?

By transitioning into a more autonomous future with self-parking and self-driving vehicles, are we leaving behind the basic fundamentals of being a safe driver?

driving vehicles, are we leaving behind the basic fundamentals of being a safe driver?

The argument is, the more we rely on technology the more we neglect our own awareness and skills. If we let sensors, cameras and automation do all the work, are we even paying attention to our surroundings? Is the driver at fault? Or technology?

What happens when the driver of a self-driving car is fast asleep while cruising a 100km/h down the freeway? These are just some of the issues we are now facing with autonomy.