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Toys Technology

Toyota Offers Automatic Parallel Parking Option 504

dstone writes "For drivers who can't parallel park very well, relief is available in Japan. Toyota Motor Corp. is offering a $2,200 option package for its Prius (a gas-electric hybrid car) that includes a computer imaging system which stuffs your car into parallel parking spaces on demand. The driver must manually initiate the process and control the brakes while the car steers in reverse. Some might say if you can't master parallel parking, perhaps you shouldn't be driving. However, the article at Modbee.com points out that in Japan, streets are jammed and parallel parking spaces can be ruthlessly small. 80% of Prius customers have opted for this package. But will the car plug the meter when I run out of time?"
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Toyota Offers Automatic Parallel Parking Option

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  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @05:59AM (#8030164) Homepage Journal
    Free up some of that driving time for important things like cell-phoning, child-swatting, and make up-applying.
  • Old News (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mphase ( 644838 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @05:59AM (#8030167) Homepage
    Still interesting and all but old as the hills. The technology is even older than Toyota's products as well, handicapped conventions have had similar systems for years.
    • Re:Old News (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @10:33AM (#8032153)
      The first incarnation of such feature that I remember seeing was in the 40s or 50s (on TV, I'm not that old) where the car had a 5th wheel that looked like a spare hanging off of the trunk. With the push of a button the 5th wheel lowered and rotated the back of the car into the parking spot.
  • ahhhhhhh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Finally, there's hope for women!
    • Funnily enough, I failed parallel parking (did I spell it right?), even though my drivers log book required that I pass it. I was gutted., but at the ed the guy signed the forms and gave me my license?! Score!

      I'm now on a full license, having been on the road for 4 years now - and to this day I haven't attempted a single paraa... i'll-be-fucked-if-i-can-spell-that-word park...
  • Why the brake need? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oxide ( 92607 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:00AM (#8030170)
    Alot of the cars now come with a sensor that alrets the driver when aproaching the the car behind. Couldnt the automatic parking system make use of this? and therefore fully automate the process.
    • Then Toyota would fight over who was negligent when the thing crashs and the airbags deploy.
    • one word: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
  • Parking Assist (Score:2, Informative)

    Parking Assist relies on a built-in computer, steering sensor and a tiny camera in the car's rear and works like this: A dashboard display shows the image taken by the camera. When you near a parking space and shift into reverse, computerized lines pop up on the display, along with arrows pointing up, down, left and right.

    Using the arrows, you move the lines around until they define exactly where you want the car to be parked. Then you push the "set" button on the display. Keep your foot lightly on the bra
    • Re:Parking Assist (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:24AM (#8030273) Homepage
      And now for the major limitation: The system works only in situations where the car can continuously back up into a space -- not for those tight spots where you must inch your way into a space by going back and forth, wrestling with the wheel.

      I'm not sure about the physics involved, but my experience tells me that the going back and forth technique seems to have rather diminishing returns... often I find that redoing the whole thing (driving back out on the street and revising my entrance vector) is more worthwhile. The fact that most cars only have wheels which turn in the front could be significant.

      So maybe the major limitation is not that major after all? I might be seriously wrong though ;)

      PS. Offtopic sidenote: It's nice to see the Linux big boys in here with random Finnish coders like myself :)
      • PS. Offtopic sidenote: It's nice to see the Linux big boys in here with random Finnish coders like myself :)

        Maybe you should re-read his username and look at his number, it's higher than mine. :)

        His username is Eric S. Rayrnond. :)

      • by transient ( 232842 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:54AM (#8031094)
        driving back out on the street and revising my entrance vector

        Only on Slashdot is parallel parking described in terms of an "entrance vector."

      • [...]those tight spots where you must inch your way into a space by going back and forth, wrestling with the wheel.

      Don't know about you, but I praise power steering every day :)

  • No thanks... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GreyWolf3000 ( 468618 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:02AM (#8030177) Journal
    I'll keep my manual windows, manual locks, manual transmission vehicle thank you. I like software a lot, but I certainly don't let it take over driving.

    I guess learning how to do things on your own is going the way of the do-do bird, so to speak.

    • Re:No thanks... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThogScully ( 589935 )
      What do manual locks and windows have to do with anything? You can't possible tell me that something is lost with the convenience of pressing a button to lower your window or pressing a button to lock and unlock doors.
      • Re:No thanks... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ComaVN ( 325750 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:20AM (#8030260)
        Except, of course, when your faulty car cruise-controls you into a lake and the electronics go out. Now, where's that hammer?
        • When your faulty cruise control starts driving you into a lake, try hitting the brakes. Try switching into neutral. And if none of that works, get out of the car before sinking.
        • Since when does cruise control have anything to do with brakes, or steering?
      • Well my bank account takes a hit when they break down. My brother has a 2000 Nissan Altima and already needs work done on his back windows.

        THAT is the price you pay for having the rolling up done for you.

    • Automatic transmission seems pretty reliable to me. I like driving a stick cause we get snow and ice where I live. The first time I started sliding, downshifted 2 gears, let the clutch out and the car straightened out I realized that I never wanted to own an automatic, ever.
  • by frankthechicken ( 607647 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:03AM (#8030179) Journal
    . . . is there a program that helps you to get out of that parking space?

    I mean it's all very well being able to cram yourself into a tight parking space [guinnessworldrecords.com], but getting out might just be a bit trickier.
  • IMHO. This is totally overkill for a car that drives like a golf cart.
    • IMHO. This is totally overkill for a car that drives like a golf cart.

      In Your Humbe Opinion indeed. The presumption that every Toyota drives like a golf cart is just about as correct as presuming that every Ford Explorer ever made is a death trap.

      But I respect your opinion, obviously.

      PS. Not that I'm a Toyota fan, I drive a Subaru myself ;)
  • by Bertie ( 87778 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:04AM (#8030185)
    It has to be able to get into the space in one go - it can't shuffle back and forward to straighten itself out. Apparently this is why the feature won't be offered in the UK - our metered parking spaces aren't long enough for it to be able to park itself neatly.

    Anyway, it's an extremely cool feature and all, but is parking really that hard? Mind you, I'm the sort of automotive Luddite that thinks that power steering's a bad idea, so maybe I'm not the right man to ask.
    • Perhaps, You don't need it. But you'll wish everyone had one when you find your car savaged by inexperinced parkers

      (i.e. USians)

  • DUPE! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sarojin ( 446404 )
    This article is a DUPE! [slashdot.org]
  • Parallel parking... (Score:3, Informative)

    by perly-king-69 ( 580000 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:06AM (#8030194)
    In the UK being there is a parallel parking component to the driving test. Not sure what effect it's had though.
    • yeah i know, i had it in both tests i took (passed this bit both times though i failed the first test on something else :p).

      its only been in the test for a few years though i think so there hasn't been a noticable effect yet. judging from where i work (chocca with student cars) people's ability to parallel park varies greatly. :D

      • its only been in the test for a few years though i think so there hasn't been a noticable effect yet. judging from where i work (chocca with student cars) people's ability to parallel park varies greatly. :D

        Back in my day, '94, you got any two of parallel parking, reverse around a corner or three-point turn.

        But it's like anything else you learn - I crammed it for the test but I've probably lost it because I don't get any practice. I've a garage at home and I use a car park for the shops and station. I th
  • USA drivers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Burb ( 620144 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:06AM (#8030195)
    Reminds me of a comment made to my wife (English) while she was a student in the USA. She reversed into a parking bay at the mall, and was congratulated. "You must be British" they said "an American wouldn't be able to park in reverse".
    Now before you all toast me, I don't hold this to be a general truth. But European cars are smaller and parking bays are often more crowded than their North American counterparts. And I'm led to believe this could be even more so in Japan.
    So yay to anything that helps you parallel park in a confined space.
    • I live in london and if a car is parked with one wheel up on the kerb and the backend of the car sticking out into the road you can almost
      guarantee a woman parked it especially if its one of those "lifestyle" 4x4s that only tiny women with kids seem to drive. Maybe female ex-pats park well
      abroad because they're the good parkers who got fed up with their car being bashed every time they went shopping and decided to emigrate :)
      • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:55AM (#8030416) Journal
        In my experience, female motorists tend to be more worried about their wing mirrors being clipped by passing vehicles, and more considerate about leaving adequate space for the drivers either side of them, and park their cars accordingly.

        I will, however, reinforce the grandparent posters point, albeit more directly. I was learning how to drive in the UK when I went on an long summer holiday to Florida. At the time I went over, my driving instructor thought I had a fair way to go (and I did) before I could consider taking a driving test and getting my licence. But, when I got to the US, getting a licence over there was ridiculously easy by comparison.

        For one thing, learners in the UK (and in most countries) learn in manual (ie, stick-shift) rather than automatic vehicles, quite the opposite of their US counterparts. For another, they have a whole handbook of information that they have to absorb, with details on everything from road signage, stopping distances, driving in hazardous conditions, etc - from what I saw, theoretical knowledge is barely tested in the US.

        Also, the most tricky manouvre tested in the US seems to be parking, whereas in the UK you also have to safely demonstrate emergency stopping, reversing around a corner, making a three-point turn (turning around the direction of your car in a confined area using forward and reverse gears), etc.

        Nowadays the UK standards are even tougher, with two seperate stages, a theoretical test and a practical test, both of which must be passed to attain a driver's licence. I believe the standards in some European countries (such as Germany, if I remember correctly) are just as strict.

        In some places, such as Northern Ireland, newly qualified drivers are required to wear special plates on their cars to alert other drivers of their rookie status, further ensuring road safety.
        • Two-stage licence, fancy manoeuvers, special plates on the cars, and now limited initial point capital (6 instead of 12 during the first 3 years of your licence: get caught running a red or DUI, and your licence is shredded AND you have to wait 6 months before you're allowed to start taking it again from scratch).

          Nothing really changed on the actual fatalities reports until they started running fine-o-matic devices like there are in the UK.
        • Well making a generalization about the US in general from Florida's driving test is a mistake. Each state has there own driving test.
    • Everybody parks in reverse in Japan. I suppose that that's the way they're taught to do it in driving school, but you see people park in reverse in even the largest parking lots here.

      As for the parallel parking assistance, if I had that, I might actually be tempted to get a driver's license here in Japan. You have no idea how severe parking can be (especially if you're reading Slashdot from the states)
    • I was on business trip to the USA a few years ago and being early at my customer's, I chose to park the rental car in reverse into the parking slot, thus thinking "ready to leave".

      As soon as I was done and ready to leave, I had one security guard on my tail who told me that I wasn't allowed to park in reverse. I didn't understand why I was being challenged at first, since this policy was indicated nowhere. The guard answered that if other drivers saw my car parked in reverse, they might attempt to do the

  • by Scorchio ( 177053 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:06AM (#8030199)
    ...it could turn all four wheels 90 degrees.
  • by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:07AM (#8030201) Journal
    >> But will the car plug the meter when I run out of time?"

    I'd settle for it berating ticket-writing meter maids when I run out of time.

    • Well you really need to move to the Gold coast (a bit south of Brisbane) and check out the Queensland version of meter maids. These are bikini clad women who wander the streets looking for meters to plug, as "service" to the tourists.

      I for one .. would not be berating them at all .. lol

      Check out out this Link [metermaids.com] for some info.
  • by Elanor ( 130622 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:08AM (#8030205)
    What pricks my curiosity is why large cars are such a status symbol. In a city like New York, you have these massive limos that must be impossible to park (I guess that's why you get one with a driver, so they can drive around the block while you entertain yourself). London seems to be riddled with big ol' 4wd monsters that never even see a national route, let alone go off-road. Admittedly the Smart car [smart.com] is a bit uglee, but if you're only going to be averaging 30mph and need to park to a short order, seems a sensible option...

    My 2 coppers.

    - Lnr
    • and here in amerika it's too damned difficult to find anything that is a real subcompact size without paying for a midsized price.

      I want a small two seater commuter. I would love for it to be the size of an Isetta or even a real mini (not that americanized junk that is here.) Back in the early 80's there were isuzu and Toyota subcompacts and they were great for the city commuter. I could park places that nobody else could (mostly because of the idiots that drove lincolns and caddilacs that were entitled t
  • by anubi ( 640541 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:08AM (#8030208) Journal
    Maybe a small set of hydraulically controlled wheels that lower, sideways, so that you pull adjacent to the space you want, then slide in on smaller six-inch solid rubber tires or so?

    • Years ago i saw something like this on the BBC's tomorrows world, this is like 15 years ago (maybe a little less) sorry no links to back up my statement but it did exist for a while, never really understood why it never took off cos it is such an obvious advancement, especially for city cars.
  • I'm a loser (Score:4, Funny)

    by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:09AM (#8030210) Homepage Journal
    I can't parallel park for shit. I need a space before the empty space I'm pulling in to, and even then, I rarely get it in there nice and tight. In a pinch I can pull it off.

    I kind of feel shame about it!
    • Whilst I used to drive a lot and there was a reversse parking (or parallel parking as you call it) component to my driving test, I have only sporadically driven a car for the last seven years and even then only when I am in Australia.

      I remember once going to a formerly regular haunt of mine, a cafe, and being presented with the option of reverse parking up a hill, right in front of the cafe, or just nosing into an illegal park on the other side of the (one way) road. I took the easy option and parked on t
    • Don't feel too bad. It's just a knack. When I was being trained for my driving test (I don't call it 'learning to drive' - it was simply being trained to pass the test :) here in Australia, the instructor made it quite clear that I would get 3 attempts at parking in my test, and if I couldn't do it on the 3 attempts I would have failed the test.

      The instructor basically just said to line up this corner of the car with that point on the road, turn the wheels thus, and reverse in. And it worked perfectly, eve
  • I wonder (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sarojin ( 446404 )
    Will the insurance company pick it up if you (I mean it) damages another car?

    In the US, these have to pass some stern Government inspection and testing before they are allowed on the road. I don't think I want the liability.

    Is parking really that hard? Are people really that stupid and lazy?
    • Insurance companies may even offer a discount for getting an 'auto parker' feature. Something that takes a potential safety issue (like cracking the bumper of the car you're backing into) out of human hands could be seen as a safety plus (like auto-daytime running lights, anti-lock brakes, active restraint systems, active anti-theft devices, air bags...ie anything that will work on it's own to save 1) our asses and 2)your car and those around it).

      You probably won't make the cost back but I bet it would be
  • by sllim ( 95682 ) <{achance} {at} {earthlink.net}> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:11AM (#8030224)
    I know nothing about lawsuits in Japan, so this may not be a factor.

    But when I read the article (bad slashdotter, BAD!) and came to the part that said 'there is no onboard object recognition, so there is nothing that is going to stop you from running over something in the parking space.' I thought, oooohhhh boy.

    I don't think this will make it to the US for this reason. If it does, then the first time someone runs over someone elses dog all hell is gonna break loose. People are gonna be saying that it is in fact Toyota's fault that they ran over the dog.

    Stupid lawsuits, stupid people.

    Come to think of it wew may never get that feature in the US no matter how good of a job they do.

    Lets say a company does make a decent object recognition package for the car, is it possible for them to actually be 100 percent sure that the car will recognize an object in 100 percent of situations that come along?

    Cause as soon as that figure moves to 99 percent then some doofushead is gonna argue that the object recognition feature takes the responsibility of running something over out of there hands and into the car manufacturers hands.

    Nah, we will never see it on our shores.
    • Cause as soon as that figure moves to 99 percent then some doofushead is gonna argue that the object recognition feature takes the responsibility of running something over out of there hands and into the car manufacturers hands.

      But won't it? I mean, once we get to the point where parking is achieved by pressing the "Park" button, isn't there a reasonable expectation of such a system not laying tread to the neighbor's pooch? Or ramming the car behind you?

      When you offer automation, it has to come with a

      • "But if it fails by ramming something, then would you not be in the same realm as the possessed cruise control?"

        Not really. If the parking system ran over someone while operating normally its no different to you having the cruise on doing 65 and not
        braking if someone steps out into the road. The car is just operating normally, YOU are who is in control of the machine and its YOUR responsibility to operate it correctly.
      • Bad analogy. With cruise control, you still have to monitor the car- 65 may be too fast (or too slow) to be safe in traffic conditions. The parking automation is the same. Figuring out who to blame would come down to the particulars of the case, but there would be major lawsuits.
      • But won't it? I mean, once we get to the point where parking is achieved by pressing the "Park" button, isn't there a reasonable expectation of such a system not laying tread to the neighbor's pooch? Or ramming the car behind you?

        Do airliner pilots have to monitor the aircraft when it's on autopilot? Why?

        When you offer automation, it has to come with a level of reliability and safety that the manufacturer could be held accountable if failure leads to damage.

        There is no first-gen device that comes with

    • and there'll be a disclaimer with words to the effect of "you have responsibility for the car" much like you do with power steering and cruise control.
    • The self-parking feature on the Japanese 2004 Prius
      will not work if the driver does not have their
      foot on the brake pedal. True, the Prius does
      not have object recognition to avoid running over
      something - that's what the driver is for. The
      driver does not have to steer into the parking
      space, but they do have to brake. No lawsuits -
      if the car hits something it's because the driver
      did not brake, not the car!
  • by EuroChild ( 523969 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:12AM (#8030228)
    "Park in that parking bay, Pirus"
    "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that... and my air-conditioning unit needs replacing..."

    (car runs over driver after geting out)

    Sorry... had to be said...
  • by MrRTFM ( 740877 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:13AM (#8030236) Journal
    Its bloody hard to parallel park when your pissed :)

    Seriously, this is just one step closer to the car that drives itself - its going to take a long time for the public and the laws to allow this to happen, but eventually it will happen.
  • by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <CGP AT ColinGregoryPalmer DOT net> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:13AM (#8030240) Homepage
    I could have used that on my driver's test. I was doing great on my driving test until I got to the parallel parking bit.

    Picture this, an empty suburban street. Just one car parked on the road. All I have to do is park behind it. 10 min later, my car is about 6 feet away from the curb, at a 30 degree angle.

    The woman giving me the test looked over the brim of her glasses and said, ``You want to try that again honey?''

    I wanted to say no, because I was actually rather proud of how close I had gotten that time.

    But, I tried again, with the same result.

    ``Why don't we move on.'' She said.

    In the end, she passed me, but with the words, ``You're a very cautious driver, but the worst parallel parker I've seen in my entire career.''

    In London? Need a Physics Tutor? [colingregorypalmer.net]

    American Weblog in London [colingregorypalmer.net]
    • Not bad, not bad. I think I can beat you, though. :)

      2001 Toyota Corolla, 27 years old (me). I was told to park between two poles that were so far apart I could have parked TWO corollas in there. So I pull up next to the front pole, cut the wheel, and turn. Almost smashed the front pole! Crap. Try again. Pull in, doing great, thinking I'm doing perfectly. I finish, declare I'm done, and look over at the guy giving me the test.

      "Why don't you step out and look?"

      Sure enough, I was 2 feet from the cur

  • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:14AM (#8030242)
    But will the car plug the meter when I run out of time?

    Why not. This would be technically trivial. You modify the parking meter to have rfid sensors just like those toll booths. So you pull up to the thing and it just starts charging your parking account. You leave, it stops. No more getting angry because you left 1hr for the other guy. Or realizing that you didn't bring any quarters with you. Or running out in the middle of a meeting to stuff the meter.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The point of having a meter is to keep parking slots open. You have a maximum limit (usually 4 hours or so) after which you are required to move your car so as to free up the parking space for someone else.

      Installing a pay-as-you-park meter completely defeats the purpose of the parking meter because it encourages you to leave your car in the space indefinitely with no penalty for failing to yield the space after a reasonable amount of time.
      • True to a point, but it could actually do a better job of discouraging long parking periods - just have a non-linear scale of fees. If the price starts to rise dramatically after three or four hours, then there's an incentive to move on before that time, rather than just dropping back briefly to stick more money in the meter.
    • Better: modify the parking meters to use the same RFID sensors as the toll roads...one transponder, one account. Here in Orlando, you'll soon be able to use your E-Pass (toll tag) to pay for parking at the Orlando Int'l Airport.
  • by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:18AM (#8030251) Homepage
    I happen to have a Toyota. But I've applied Occam's Razor to the problem. When I need to get the thing into a tight spot, I just kinda put my shoulder into it and nudge it sideways.

    Two thousand bucks my !@#$. These things weight 100, 120lbs, tops...
  • by mshiltonj ( 220311 ) <<mshiltonj> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:20AM (#8030261) Homepage Journal
    Some might say if you can't master parallel parking, perhaps you shouldn't be driving.

    Let's hope not. *pats driver's license*
  • Best Solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pklong ( 323451 )
    Best solution I saw once to the problem of parallel parking, was a car with a set of small wheels which could be lowered when you wanted to park. They were mounted 90 degrees to the main wheels, so you drew up next to the place you wanted to park, dropped the wheels and "drove" in sideways.

    Of course the Italians won't need this device, if the space isn't big enough they tend to ram the other cars until it is ;)
    • Of course the Italians won't need this device, if the space isn't big enough they tend to ram the other cars until it is ;)

      I've done that before in the US. :) I had parked in a space that had all kinds of room, and then when I came out, one of the cars had moved, and another car had pulled in its place and was touching my bumper. Know that rule about how you need like 6 inches to be able to pull out? Couldn't do it. There was 2 inches of clearance in the front, and none in the back. Luckily, my bumpe

  • by supersnail ( 106701 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:31AM (#8030315)
    The French have a much simpler low tech answer to the problem.

    Everybody leaves there parking brake off, then, the car parking nudges the already parked cars along to make a big enough space.

    Anyone foolish enough to actually engage the parking brake gets dented both ends.

  • by Kalewa ( 561267 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:31AM (#8030317)
    Standard response to anything that makes something easier (or just require less skill). A good GUI? If you need it you shouldn't be on a computer. Automatic transmission? For sissies who can't drive stick.

    Truth is, a lot of drivers out there are probably a hazard to the rest of us, but anything that assists them and makes them less of a hazard is a good thing in my opinion.

    Just because you're good at parallel parking, manual shifting, and using a command line doesn't mean that anyone who can't do those things well is inferior.

  • Haha (Score:2, Funny)

    by rhetoric ( 735114 )
    This would make my job as a valet a bit easier :D
  • Unbelievable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jridley ( 9305 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @07:09AM (#8030465)
    You know, you could just grab a couple of chairs, go to a parking lot, and practice for 30 minutes. Assuming you still have intact chairs, you should be able to parallel park just fine for the rest of your life. It's not that hard, but maybe some people would rather spend a few thousand dollars than 30 minutes learning something.
    I've heard that some drivers training instructors are using toy cars to demonstrate how parallel parking works; some people can have a hard time visualizing it. I think the problem is that cars steer radically different when in reverse than when they're going forwards; this could be why some people have trouble backing up in general.
  • a car that will startup and drive itself to me when I whistle.
  • 'Oh for a docking computer . . .' Alex murmured as he began to match rotation and slowly approached.

    'Waste of money . . .' Elyssia chided. 'If you can't dock without losing your paintwork, you shouldn't be in space.'

  • by Shmengy ( 230112 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:39AM (#8030953) Homepage
    I can see this option being very popular with the parkingly challenged (trying to be politically correct) gender. It should also make their non-gender-specified spouses happy as it will mean less dings and scratches.
  • BMW (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shant3030 ( 414048 ) * on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @10:34AM (#8032155)
    BMW is coming out with this option in a few years as well. Along with their Active Cruise control and Active steering this is a welcomed option.
  • by ashitaka ( 27544 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @12:01PM (#8033098) Homepage
    Here [telus.net]
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @01:05PM (#8033806) Homepage
    Apparently this has a camera and a computer, but the computer doesn't look at the camera image.

    The Volkswagen automatic parking system of a decade ago was better.

    What's really needed are low-cost 3D imaging laser rangefinders, to get an unambiguous picture of the nearby obstacles. Such devices are quite possible if there's a market for them. Today's laser rangefinders are big and clunky, but that's due to the tiny size of the market.

    It's coming. Two no-moving-parts 3D laser rangefinders exist in prototype right now. One is too low power and doesn't have enough range. The other is too high power and isn't eye-safe (the application is antiaircraft missile guidance.) In a few years, this technology should filter down to the robotics and automotive communities.

  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @05:23PM (#8036783) Homepage Journal
    I distinctly remember an episode of "Beyond 2000" in which they show a prototype of a car than can parallel park itself.

    Not too bad at all, it's only 4 years "Beyond 2000" and these things are showing up.

  • Great idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by ocie ( 6659 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @06:47PM (#8037731) Homepage
    This should leave the driver with both hands free to make the appropriate hand signals to the cars behind that are honking. Seriously, the worst thing about parallel parking is that the cars usually follow too close to allow you to back into a place.

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