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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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  • A Tight Spot??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wellerite ( 935166 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:19AM (#15063718)
    a tight parking spot You must be joking - you could fit a Hummer in that spot.
  • Danger? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Metabolife ( 961249 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:19AM (#15063719)
    So what happens when a maniac driving too fast blocks the path of travel?
  • by mobiux ( 118006 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:28AM (#15063744)
    So if this system screws up, mis-calculates the available space and dents a ferrari, is toyota going to pony up?

  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:29AM (#15063753) Homepage
    on driving tests to keep the completely brain-dead off the road will be eliminated. I hope examiners will demand that this feature be turned off for testing.
  • Parking meter... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cl191 ( 831857 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:38AM (#15063792)
    Now if this thing will have on board RFID to the parking meter or somehow has an arm to put quarters into the meter will be perfect.
  • Autovalet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:54AM (#15063875) Homepage Journal
    Now if these cars would just park themselves far from where they drop me off, we can get rid of street parking in Manhattan. The cars can park themselves outside the city center where parking is plentiful/cheap/free, and we can triple the capacity of our existing streets.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:01AM (#15063898)
    actually... they've been testing such a thing for many years. Basically, a magnetic strip runs center of each lane, which allows the car to determine if it's veering one way or the other. In addition, the cars are built with sensors which allow for advanced forms of "drafting" whereby each vehicle is spaced most efficiently to enhance fuel economy. Read about it 5+ years ago in a readers' digest. Not entirely sure what happened afterwards, though.

    On an interesting side note, certain parts of Philadelphia tested a "diamond" system. Essentially, diamonds are painted on the roads' surface and you are to keep one diamond between yourself and the car in front of you. Basically, it's an aid to judge distance. The one problem they ran into while testing was that people kept using the space to jump in the lane :p. Go figure.
  • Lose control? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mercuryswitch ( 952779 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:02AM (#15063905)
    What I'm concerned about is what if you accidentally hit the assist switch while driving on the freeway, or if the auto-pilot device could be over-ridden, or hi-jacked, and perhaps you can lose control of your car, from some mischievous kid tampering with your on-board computer system.
  • Great.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:16AM (#15063961) Journal
    This is all fine and dandy untill it hits a kid. Then who is to blame for it? The driver, the company who make the car or none of the above (which I bet the company will try to claim)?
  • Re:A Tight Spot??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:52AM (#15064079) Homepage
    I distinctly remember a car from the 50's which had a 5th wheel which would come out the back. This allowed you to drive head-first into a parking spot, then flip a switch to cause the hydrolic wheel to come down and swing the back end off the car until it was parallel.

    Does anyone else remember this car? Any footage or info online?
  • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tmack ( 593755 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:42AM (#15064203) Homepage Journal
    In Georgia, you would get shot for doing such a thing... see this video [], shot here by GSU students. Abiding by the speed limit is one thing, but holding up traffic while trying to correct everyone else is not a good idea. The left lane is the "fast lane" in the sense that you are moving "Faster" than those in the lanes to your right. Here, we have signs stating that specifically: "Slower traffic keep right". Meaning if you are not passing, move into the right lane. In Germany and other countries you will be arrested if you are found driving in the left lane and not passing, the left lane is strictly for passing there.


  • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by donutello ( 88309 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:10AM (#15064284) Homepage
    You're an asshole and besides that you're wrong. The left lane is not the "fast" lane. It is the passing lane. You know all those "KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS" signs you see all over? What do you think they mean, numbnuts?

    California state law [] states:

    21654. (a) Notwithstanding the prima facie speed limits, any
    vehicle proceeding upon a highway at a speed less than the normal
    speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall be
    driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable
    to the right-hand edge or curb, except when overtaking and passing
    another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing
    for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or
          (b) If a vehicle is being driven at a speed less than the normal
    speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time, and is
    not being driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as
    practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, it shall constitute prima
    facie evidence that the driver is operating the vehicle in violation
    of subdivision (a) of this section.
          (c) The Department of Transportation, with respect to state
    highways, and local authorities, with respect to highways under their
    jurisdiction, may place and maintain upon highways official signs
    directing slow-moving traffic to use the right-hand traffic lane
    except when overtaking and passing another vehicle or preparing for a
    left turn.

  • Great... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chicane-UK ( 455253 ) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:50AM (#15064411) Homepage
    Excellent. Another 'convenience' feature which helps out people who are clearly far too STUPID to use a car.

    I remeber reading an article recently that put people with high end, well kitted out cars in cars with NO driver aids and subjected them to a few tests such as skid pans and high speed maneuvres(sp?!) - the results were fairly predictable. Most were so used to the features that automatically kicked in when they did something stupid that when faced with a car that didn't have them, they had NO idea what was going on and lost control in all circumstances.

    I personally feel that there needs to be more driver education and less dependence on these driver aids! I appreciate they might be important in an accident of course but not all circumstances where driver aids may be used could be classed as accidents!
  • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:01AM (#15064446) Journal

    I don't believe you. Unless you're on a motorbike, or have the ability to move your card sideways. Or have a car under 1m wide.

    Why? Simple mathematics. As soon as your car is more than 1 metre wide it's length across the diagonal is at least 10cm longer than its long front to back. So it physically wont fit in the gap to get out.

    You're right - the computer wont be able to achieve that. Computers are constrained to the possible.
  • Insurance Rates.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daitengu ( 172781 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:07AM (#15064609) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if having this feature will drop insurance rates?
  • Re:Smarter cars (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:19AM (#15064638)
    Smarter cars will make SAFER roads. If I am crossing the street in a rainy day I prefer a dumb driver with ABS who only needs to press the brake hard than an average driver without ABS who does not remember well the technique you have to use to avoid your wheels to block while braking, and when he remembers how to do it he has already slid along the road and hit me hard.
  • Re:Thank you Jesus (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cyvros ( 962269 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:23AM (#15064646)

    After a lot of practice, it's sort of second nature, really, but imagine the amount of time you would save. Instead of grabbing all of your stuff (bags, dog, iPod, etc.) after you've manually parked, you can do that while the car parks for you. It could save a good 10 seconds.

    And just imagine the developments in the future. One day, we could all have cars that can drop people off and find available parking spaces in which they can automatically park. Just going to a shopping centre would be a whole lot easier - you don't have to worry about finding parking, just where the car actually is.

    But getting back to the article, this is just cool. I can't wait until they:

    A) get out to Australia; and

    B) get a lot (and I mean a lot) cheaper.

  • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @10:20AM (#15066166) Journal
    Parallel parking isn't too difficult - I did it in my car all the time (I've moved to a location where I no longer need the car, public transport suits me fine and I like not having to pay all the taxes)... tight spots aren't a problem.

    But along comes some asshole who turns that tight spot into an impossible spot by parking in front of / behind you without leaving enough room for you to get out comfortably. More often than not, you're not going to find the person to ask them to please move their car - or perhaps they can't anymore either. Rather than zig-zagging numerous times to edge my way out, I'd gently push the other car out of the way first - and if gently didn't work, firmly would; alarms be damned.

    A system that can get you out of those -those- situations would be much more appreciated - like another commenter mentioned, those videos of cars with all four wheels turning a full 90 degrees, that's what we'd need.
  • Re:Thank you Jesus (Score:3, Interesting)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:32PM (#15067688) Homepage Journal
    What a strange phobia.. the phrase "only in America.." comes to mind. I'm trying to think of something similarly stupid to be scared of, but at the moment I can't. I wonder how many people over there never learn to maneuver their cars properly, and are restricting their choice of eating places/whatever to only places that are designed for large groups of cattle..

    I'd rather have the flexibility to know I can park wherever there is a space, if the need arises, and know that I can reverse my car with a semblance of skill. In fact the first time I drove a car my dad actually had me drive in reverse, by the logic that if I could handle that, then going fowards is easy, hehe

    I do agree about the resident parking, but I haven't been picky about accomodation so far (have just lived in places that my friends have found). The last place I lived had great redisent parking actually, but I'm more concerned about basic things like decent heating and showers etc. When I get my own place in a couple of years then I'd prefer to be able to park easily, but since I know I can control my car, parking would hardly enter into my thinking - apart from "is the area safe to park in?"

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10