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Self-Parking Cars Coming To U.S. 610

Rio writes "Vehicles that are able to parallel park themselves while drivers sit and relax behind the wheel are coming to the United States, according to a Local 6 News report. New Toyota hybrid cars are now available in Britain with a $700 "parking assist" option. Local 6 news showed video of a driver sitting and allowing the car's steering wheel to turn on its own as it pulled into a tight parking spot on a London street. The reporter never touched the wheel as the car parked itself.Toyota says expect to see the technology pop up in the U.S. soon." Here is our previous coverage of their release in Japan.
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Self-Parking Cars Coming To U.S.

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:22PM (#15063730)
    I'm surprised Toyota's insurers are allowing this. I imagine that every person who gets touched by one of those things moving on its own will sue for $millions.

  • Smarter cars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:22PM (#15063731)
    Smarter cars will just make dumber drivers.
  • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Cisco Kid (31490) * on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:28PM (#15063749)
    Trust me, your kids will still need driver's ed, so they can learn that the left lane is for PASSING, IDIOT, and if you arent PASSING, get OUT of the left lane, IDIOT! Not to mention the whole turn on your turn signal BEFORE you start to turn, and BEFORE you start to brake for the turn. Oh, and the that the accleration lane on an highway onramp is for ACCELERATING, as in you are supposed to match speed with traffic already on the highway, not force it to brake heavily or swerve so you can merge on at 40MPH. And for good measure, I'll throw in when turning at an intersection, turn into the CLOSEST lane. Eg, if you are turning right, turn into the RIGHTmost lane of the road you are turning into, and if you are turning left, turn into the LEFTmost lane of the road you are turning into (and then merge to the right, if you arent passing).

    Of course, I suspect its been a long time since driver's ed taught any of that, since so few people seem to be completely ignorant on those issues. And dont even get me started on the idiots that turn right into the left lane without signalling, and then cruse along at 25MPH on the left lane while gabbing on their cellphone, completely oblivious to the line of traffic that has formed behind them thats actually trying to get where they are going.
  • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:30PM (#15063756) Homepage Journal
    This is great and can't possibly get to the U.S. fast enough, but what it really needs to have is the feature for reversing the process so people can get out of parking spots (maybe it does, can't view the video on this computer). Any parking spot. I can't count how many times I've seen a driver so damn eager to get on the cell phone as soon as he gets in the car that he can't get out of the parking spot without tying up street traffic or parking lot traffic while driving with one arm and half a brain, 'cause god forbid one should put that stupid phone down and drive.
  • Re:A Tight Spot??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:30PM (#15063759) Homepage Journal
    Indeed. Call me when somebody builds a car that's actually designed for parallel parking---direct drive on all four wheels and wheels that rotate a full 90 degrees.... Then it will be interesting. Until my car can move straight sideways, I'm rolling my eyes instead. :-)

  • by osmodion (716658) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:36PM (#15063785)
    Of course not. I'm willing to bet that the lease/sale contract will specifically cover Toyota if there is an accident during park assist. Since the driver still needs to be controlling the speed, via the brake, the driver must be paying attention and is in a position to prevent an accident. Therefore, without a serious system failure (along the lines of any other manufacturing defect), it will still be the driver's fault.
  • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:03AM (#15063911)
    I had to commute to college. I could either spend $200+ for a parking garage spot/quarter (those bastards!) or I could park on the street (i.e. parallel park most of the time). So I practiced for a week and never payed for the garage and just parallel parked every morning, no computers, no rear view cameras, just my head and my hands and feet (wow, what a concept!).

    If someone so un-coordinated as me can do it, anyone can do it. So in the end after a week of practice and 5 years later I ended up with $200/quarter*3 quarters/year*5 years=$3000 profit.

  • by McCarrum (446375) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:08AM (#15063928)
    If you have Cruise Control active, and you hit someone, can you claim against that?

  • by DigitlDud (443365) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:08AM (#15063929)
    I don't see how liability is an issue if the driver is responsible for braking.
  • 150 miles? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:16AM (#15063959)
    And you still have'nt pulled into the cruising lane?

    Grandparent poster allow me to introduce you to the parent poster.

    He's the idiot that thinks you should undertake him because 56 is a plenty fine cruising speed for the passing lane.

    Please bitch slap him for all of us.

  • Re:Lose control? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MachDelta (704883) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:19AM (#15063970)
    Well for starters, im gonna guess you need to be stopped to engage the assist mode. Also, I don't think your average young mischevious punk could figure out how to 'hack' the thing. Car computers tend to be magical black boxes whos inner workings are carefuly guarded secrets. And lastly, all else failing you can always just hit the brakes. Thats what they're there for.

    New vehicle technology always sounds scary, but eventually you'll wonder how you ever survived without it. ABS, anyone?
  • Re:Thank you Jesus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:23AM (#15063982) Homepage
    When you are 1" away from the curb, slowly bring the wheel back to rest state

    That is the tricky part there. How do you know how close to the curb you are? If you have a good sense of spatial reasoning, you may have a "feel" for it, but a lot of people don't have that skill. The view shown in your mirrors is misleading. If the curb isn't too tall, you can do it "by feel"... you know you're at the curb when the back right tire pushes up against it. On the other hand, if you are parking next to a wall, that's a good way to scrape up your rear fender.

    It's not terribly hard with practice, but it does take some skill and if you're not good at it you risk damaging your car, someone else's car, or pissing people off as they wait to pass while you mess it up and have to try again. That's more stress than many people want to have, so I can see why they might like this device.

  • by tftp (111690) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:53AM (#15064083) Homepage
    can park and get out of a space that is like 10cm longer than my car

    Sure you can. But is the owner of the car ahead of you (or behind you) just as skilled as you are?

    Myself, I don't remember when I used parallel parking last time. Must be sometime around 1998, most likely. There isn't much need for this skill here.

  • Re:Great.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:24AM (#15064160)
    That's why you aren't getting the cars.

    The rest of the world has them - you don't get them until you change your moronic legal system to something which fits with the rest of us.
  • probably illegal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by r00t (33219) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:44AM (#15064209) Journal
    Driving while not holding the steering wheel? Not even with one hand? You get to contribute to the police department budget.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:45AM (#15064214)
    LOL. Yeah, but think about it....

    At some point in the next 100 years, car manufacturers will probably be sued to oblivian for ALLOWING A HUMAN driver... :c)
  • Re:Thank you Jesus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by StarkRG (888216) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [grkrats]> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:32AM (#15064363)
    A) they don't teach it in drivers training anymore.

    B) have you ever tried to park a medium sized vehicle in a major city? It's a pain even trying to find a space let alone a space you can fit into. Not to mention all those streets with no left turns (especially when it's a one way street going left, so no right turns either). And then there's all the asshole drivers who scream at you because you're stopped in the middle of traffic and you can't back up anymore because they're right behind you...
  • Re:Autovalet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dodobh (65811) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:45AM (#15064398) Homepage
    Now if these cars would just park themselves far from where they drop me off

    Out here, we call that a taxi. There are even bigger vehicles available, which run on fixed routes and are called buses. And then we also have trains. Perhaps you need to explore alternatives?
  • Re:Thank you Jesus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fred_A (10934) <fred@freds[ ] ['hom' in gap]> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:46AM (#15064400) Homepage
    That is the tricky part there. How do you know how close to the curb you are? If you have a good sense of spatial reasoning, you may have a "feel" for it, but a lot of people don't have that skill.

    Yet millions of Europeans (and in other places I suppose) do it daily. Amazing huh ?

    Must be something in the US food.

    When I parallel parked a rental car in a parking space (or possibly two, it felt like you could have parked a bus there) in one go near the Grand Canyon while driving around in the SW US, I remember I attracted a little crowd. Same thing when I managed to get out of the spot, squeeze between two poorly parked cars in the middle of the lane with about 10 cm on each side without touching anything.

    It felt like people there only ever drove in their own driveway.
  • Re:Thank you Jesus (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:58AM (#15064573)
    I would suggest that if you don't have good spacial awareness ad lack the necessary skill then you shouldn't really be allowed to pilot over a tonne of death weilding metal.

    These computer aids are all well and good, but the less actual ability to drive you need, the less ability drivers will have on average and the more road deaths we will see caused by people who simply shouldn't be driving.
  • Re:Great... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SilentJ_PDX (559136) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:41AM (#15064692) Homepage
    Excellent. Another 'convenience' feature which helps out people who are clearly far too STUPID to use a car.

    Yes... just like a calculator is another 'convinience' for people who are clearly far too STUPID to do math.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:40AM (#15064859) Homepage
    Is this a joke or troll?

    Look up. Way, way up there the point passed over your head. The point was that automated systems don't absolve you of the responsibility of driving. If you have cruise control engaged and that would lead to a collision, it's your responsibility to hit the brakes. If you have auto park engaged and that would lead to a collision, it's your responsibility to hit the brakes.
  • Re:Wow ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oirtemed (849229) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:43AM (#15064871)
    The left may be for PASSING but it is NOT for SPEEDING. There is a difference you know, which seems to be be lost on people.
  • Re:Wow ... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:32AM (#15065275)
    but everywhere in Canada the left lane is supposed to be used specifically for passing. As in, you drive in the right lane, until you come up behind someone you wish you pass, when you then quickly switch into the left lane, pass, and go back into the right lane. It works very, very well when everyone does it.

    Apparently in Canada they've designed the roads for sufficient excess capacity to make this work. In large metropolitan areas of the US, traffic would come to a near-absolute standstill if we "reserved" one full lane just for passing. There's simply not enough capacity on the roads. Even when you've got 4 or 6 lanes on an expressway, if you were to leave one effectively closed (except for passing) you'd have commutes of 2 hours. When a broken-down car on the shoulder even squeezes one lane, it causes miles of backups.

    The problem is that a too many idiots think these passing-lane rules should apply even if traffic is moving significantly under the speed limit due to congestion. I'm just plain not going to pull over to let them get by because they feel I'm leaving a few feet too much gap in front of me in heavy traffic. They can suffer like the rest of us.

    Frankly I'd be more than happy never to drive in the left lane, assuming the remaining lanes could reasonably handle the traffic throughput. Indeed I do this on roads with sufficient capacity. But on most of the roads around here, where the capacity is simply insufficient to allow this, I'm going continue to use the left lane, and I'm going to go at least the speed limit, but no, I'm not pulling over when I'm above the speed limit already just so some Type-A personality can risk my life to break the law and get home 3 minutes faster.

    High speed itself is fine; high relative speed (with respect to the rest of traffic) is deadly dangerous.

  • by adisakp (705706) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:33AM (#15066296) Journal
    The original directions forgot to include the counter-steer after you get close to the curve while continuing to back up so you're right. Merely to "slowly bring the wheel back to rest state" would leave you at 60 degrees to the curb if you followed those directions to the letter.

    Not only that, but if you live in Chicago (or anywhere with tight parking), you'll find that you don't have room to do it all in the one-pass method and you have to do that drive-forwards-and-backwards-several-times-while-t unring-the wheel-a-lot-to-wiggle-closer-to-the-curb method which is a real pain.
  • Re:Smarter cars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jayloden (806185) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @10:28AM (#15066840)
    Maybe it's just me, but it seems to me like driving a vehicle with a manual transmission actually causes you to be a better driver in some respects.

    a) You can't eat/talk on a phone/shave/apply makeup etc nearly as easily when one hand is needed to shift. Obviously this isn't as true on the highway, but definitely for in-town driving.

    b) You can't zone out and totally ignore the road, unless you like the roar of an engine banging against the rev limiter nonstop...

    c) When you drive a manual transmission, you tend not to pull right up to the ass end of the car in front of you, because you realize that they just might need an inch or two to roll back as they leave from a full stop.

    d) Have you ever tried driving in stop-and-go traffic with a stick shift? I am convinced that traffic conditions would be immensely better if everyone had to drive with a clutch, because it makes you insane constantly working the clutch, gas, and brake back and forth to move forward 6 inches at a time, so you're going to either make sure it's worth it, or not cause the situation in the first place. Conversely, with an automatic, it's just releasing the brake a little and then applying it again.

    e) Paying attention to your car, your speed, and the road around you in general is easier and more likely if every few moments you need to shift gears.

    I started driving an automatic transmission and moved to a manual later, and the first thing I noticed was how much more involved I became with my driving. Similarly, when I drive other people's cars or rental cars for extended periods of time, I notice small differences in my own driving. So maybe it's just me, but it certainly seems like the smarter the car is, the less the driver has to work, and the less the driver pays attention.

    For some reason I'm reminded of the story of the RV that crashed on the highway, and the investigation turned up that the driver had turned on Cruise Control and went in back to make himself a sandwich...

Adapt. Enjoy. Survive.