We’ve all struggled with parking our vehicles at more than one point in our driving lives. New drivers usually struggle the most, and we’ve all been there; trying to figure out if the car is straight, if the car is in the center of the slot, and is parked as neatly as possible. It’s usually down to driving experience and a lot of time behind the wheel, and extra kudos if you have been driving different types of vehicles and different sizes of vehicles, as this all helps sharpen you parking skills.
Of course, not every parking job is easy, and technology integrated in vehicles nowadays have made parking from easier to almost completely error free and automated. Called park assistance systems, this is a general term used by car manufacturers and marketing teams for a wide variety of useful features that a vehicle possesses that make parking easier for the driver. Let’s talk about how park assist work and highlight the main advantages of each.
Reverse Parking Sensors
In its most basic form, park assistance comes with parking sensors at the rear of the vehicle. These sensors active at a certain distance and detect if there are any obstacles behind the vehicle that the driver will otherwise not see. This gives the driver an audible warning that beeps faster or louder (or a combination of both) as the vehicle gets closer to an object. This essentially just gives the driver an extra helping hand when if judging space is a challenge, and this basic system can usually be supplemented by a rear-facing camera.
This feature, as the name suggests, consists of a rear-facing camera that transmits a video feed to the vehicle’s infotainment system. The camera is usually at a wide and low enough angle to give enough depth and visibility. This allows the driver to easily judge the distance to an object or stop at a marker/tire stopper. This kind of park assistance feature is often found in vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Xpander and in the Mazda3.
Reverse Camera with guidelines
A step above the standard reverse camera is the same feature but with guidelines. These lines usually denote the proximity of the rear bumper of a vehicle to an object with colored lines showing how close you are to the said object. Yellow meaning that your vehicle is close, while red indicates that you are mere inches away.
These guidance lines can also be supplemented by dynamic guidelines that adjust to the steering input of the driver. This will help give the driver the approximate angle and position of the vehicle as it reverses into place. This feature is usually found on much larger or more expensive vehicles that justify the cost of the necessary feature when maneuvering a vehicle of such sizes, such as the Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Terra.
The most advanced systems on the market, however, require the least amount of driver input. Using various sensors and transmitting the data to the electronic steering input, some vehicles even have a semi-automated parking feature, requiring the driver to merely select a parking slot by indicating with a blinker, and the car will talk you through changing from drive to reverse. Actual steering is controlled by the vehicle as it detects the parking slot and adjacent objects or vehicles in real-time. All the driver has to do is switch gears when instructed and control the reversing with the gas and brake pedals. Angles and guesswork are taken out of the equation, and it results in a perfect parking result almost every single time.
The pinnacle of parking systems on the market is capable of parking your vehicle without you having to be in it, relying on a myriad of sensors and cameras to transmit data for the vehicle to reverse or pull out of parking slots at will. Vehicles like the Ford Territory and Geely Coolray feature self-parking systems, with optional fully automated parking on some trims.
As with any assistance system in a vehicle, you can choose to use these features or do the act of parking yourself. Always remember that when using any of these systems, you must still be aware of your surroundings, mirrors, and be prepared to take over when necessary. It’s cool to see that vehicle technology is taking the hassle and guesswork out of parking, but remember that parking on your own is a necessary skill and something that must be practiced in order to get it right. Not every vehicle can make it easy for you, but the best way is usually to learn the hard way.
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