Parking is one of the biggest concerns for drivers. Thankfully, more cars today include “Self-parking” technology. But, it this a help or hindrance?

Basically, most parking systems engage when slow down below a set speed, usually less than 20km/h. The driver then sets the system on so it looks for spaces.  When it finds a space, you stop the car, select the space on the display and the follow the directions.

Ready to park?

You will be prompted to move the car forwards and backwards with accelerator and brake, but all the steering will be done for you.  Once finished, the car will say it’s done, you switch off the engine and off you go.

How does it work?

The park assist tech works via the usual parking sensors front and rear which detect distance from objects, but also with cameras to detect spaces.

Is it like the real thing?

Sort of. Many self-parking systems can be slower than a “human driver. By the time you’ve had the system detect a space and selected it on screen, most drivers could have completed their park.

Motor Journalist, Robert Pepper recently tested some self-parking systems. He concluded that many systems can only handle relatively easy parking situations.

Currently, many auto-parking systems won’t really be their best in complex car parks or in tight situations where they can’t detect spaces.

The systems may not also detect small obstructions or problems.  You, the driver, still needs to take control of the manoeuver and ensure everything is safe and clear.  And sometimes it just does a messy job.

Who should buy cars with that self-park?

If you do have trouble parking then this technology may be able to help in many common situations.  Australians rarely have to parallel park, and when they do it is in to large spaces compared to say Europeans, so parallel-park assistance may be of use to many.

But you’re better off learning how to park properly, a skill which can be learned from any decent driving instructor in less than an hour.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, enjoy watching these parking fails!

Additional information: Robert Pepper, Practical Motoring