Auto parking is essentially a combination of modern electric steering systems and radar sensors.

“Electric steering systems are there for energy efficiency,” Peter Evans, Lexus’s local communications head and former product planning boss, told

“And the radar sensors are there for safety, in adaptive cruise systems. When those technologies appeared side by side in the same vehicle for disparate purposes, the engineers worked out pretty quickly that they could be married up for another useful purpose that stood to make the car smarter,” he said.

Adaptive cruise control uses front-mounted, forward-looking radar sensors to override speed settings in maintaining a preset distance from the vehicle in front, dramatically reducing the chance of rear-ending others in traffic. Latter day steering systems, meanwhile, use electric motors rather than engine-driven hydraulics to activate the power assistance on demand.

With both these in place, all it meant to extend their abilities to auto parking was to widen the line of sight of the adaptive cruise radar sensors sideways, adding similar ones at the rear and tweaking the vehicle’s management system to include a channel through which they could talk to each other.

How does it work?

Typically, on pulling up beside an empty parallel parking space, the system calculates the car’s turning radius, its overall length and the positioning of its extremities against the available space. Confirming it will fit or otherwise, it tells you via guidelines on its multifunction console screen where to position it alongside the car in front, confirming when you’ve got it right. From there, you let go the wheel and let the car do the rest, at least until the time comes when the manoeuvre is complete. It leaves braking up to the driver.

While all this sounds terrific and could no doubt prove useful for the elderly and the infirm, in reality it’s proved itself more important for sales and marketing departments than consumers.

It’s coming to more vehicles

Auto parking is appearing on the option lists of an increasing array of models. Volkswagen, for example, offers it through the Golf, Tiguan, Passat and Eos ranges.

Additional information:

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