STUTTGART: The latest BMW 7 Series and the new Mercedes E Class may be able to lord it over other luxury car owners due to the fact that they can park themselves with nothing more than a tap on a smartphone or smartkey screen. However, that supremacy is set to be short lived.
Bosch is putting the final touches to its Home Zone park assist system, and it will be ready for US car companies to integrate into their latest models by 2019.
Being able to remotely garage or summon a car might not seem like something on the top of every driver's must-have list, but 13% of car accidents happen in car parks.
What's more, cars of all class and model designation are on average 40% bigger than even a decade ago while the average car-parking space remains the same size. And lastly there's the stress-reducing convenience, especially when wrestling with small children and bags full of shopping or luggage, that will ensure systems like this will be actively sought out by families in the market for a new car.
"Parking is a natural step on the path to fully autonomous vehicles," said Frank Sgambati, director of marketing and product innovation for Chassis Systems Control in North America, Robert Bosch LLC. "Home zone park assist is another example of Bosch technology that helps to reduce accidents and injuries."
When the system becomes an option on production cars, it will enable drivers to control parking from within or outside the vehicle with nothing more than a smartphone or a dedicated button on the car's keyfob. The car will be able to guide itself, autonomously, into a space up to 100 metres away from the driver.
A learning system, it will initially require some input from the driver but will automatically remember specific maneuvers for 10 specific spaces - for example pulling into and out of the family garage or an office parking space.
And while simple and intuitive to use, the system needs an array of 12 ultrasonic sensors plus access to an on-board stereo camera or a group of four radar sensors in order to perform. Working together, as well as remembering where existing obstacles are positioned, the sensors can also spot when something unexpected is in its path and will either stop altogether or, space permitting, maneuver around it.