Park Assist and other automatic parking systems have been steadily making their way into automobiles over the past decade. Now, you might not even need to be in your car.
On display at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, French automotive equipment maker Valeo has unveiled the next generation of automated “parking valet” systems. Utilizing a series of sensors, cameras, and scanners, Valeo’s new equipment transforms your vehicle into a self-driving car that is capable of finding an open space and safely parking – without you even being in the car. Did we mention this is all done through an iPhone app?
Equipping a vehicle with six ultrasonic sensors in the front, six ultrasonic sensors in the back, four cameras, and a laser scanner on the grille, users are able to stand near their vehicle and swipe the iPhone control to begin self-park – completely unaided and absent of preprogrammed routes.
Demonstrated on a Range Rover Evoque, which comes equipped with the cameras and sensors, the vehicle is able to drive around a lot scanning for an open spot, after which it properly parks – backing in, parallel, or nose first – for easier maneuvering.
To allow the vehicle to “adapt” to different situations without a programmed course of action, Valeo added a central processing unit (CPU) to analyze the data feed from the equipment to identify best routes, steering, braking, and accelerating options.
In theory, the system will permit drivers to “drop their car off” at the parking entrance, let it park itself, and then return to pick them up again at the entrance when they’re ready to leave. Valeo is already supplying similar technology to BMW, but driverless capabilities have yet to be released.
The system has great implications for those that have difficulty with certain aspects of driving, i.e. the elderly, and should help facilitate driving. One might wonder though if the added automation may actually lead to less-skilled drivers, as the reliance on technology grows. In response to safety concerns, additional features are being discussed such as requiring the driver to remain in view of the vehicle on their smartphone until the park is complete.
While the system was demonstrated through an iPhone app, there are certainly the capabilities to provide this technology in a standard key fob. As CES 2014 draws to a close, we appear to be one step closer to fully automated cars.