How reliable are self-parking cars?

Throughout the years, many car manufacturers have come up with different ways of making driving, and parking a car as easy as possible. Parking sensors, cameras, lane-keep assists, blind spot assists, pre-collision sensors, etc.

All of these systems combined offer a greater layer of protection and they also assist you while navigating the car at slower speeds. But the effectiveness of these systems was not all that great a couple of years ago.

But nowadays these systems have reached such levels of sophistication that it’s uncommon to see a higher-end vehicle not equipped with these features. As far as self-parking is concerned, as much as 81% fewer accidents have taken place thanks to parking assistance.

Furthermore, the time it takes to park a car has also been decreased by up to 10% thanks to self-parking technology. As these technologies continue to progress we are likely going to see systems such as these eventually completely replacing humans when it comes to parking.

How does it work?

As the car industry confidently treads into the autonomous era, self-parking systems are becoming more and more cohesive and reliable. But the autonomous aspect of self-parking is still rather subdued thanks to a lot of safety concerns and the fact that a system can not predict or make ethical decisions by itself.

So the only autonomous aspect of such systems is the steering. Initially, the system is tasked with finding an appropriate parking space that can safely fit the car, after the system locates such a spot, usually an audible and visual signal is being sent to the driver.

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After this, you engage the self-parking feature and the car will instruct you on shifting between front and reverse. Some systems will also accelerate and decelerate for you, others will only tell you when you should accelerate or decelerate.

These cars are equipped with proximity sensors that will alert you if you are too close to an obstacle. All you have to do at this point is to follow the instructions and you should be safely parked in a moment’s time.

Advanced self-parking assistance

But we live in 2021, and there are systems out there that drastically date the aforementioned parking assist systems. Such systems are in use by BMW and Tesla to name a few, and these systems don’t even require you to be inside the car while parking.

These systems work best if you have to park in tight spaces. You should just line the car appropriately, get out and the car will do its thing. You can control your BMW 7-series with a special key fob, or a cellphone in the case of the Tesla.

It’s worth mentioning that these systems are not yet able to steer by themselves, so you better be sure to line the car up properly. Mercedes has recently revealed the new S-Class and as always the S-Class has debuted loads of new technologies that are yet to be fully tested.

Mercedes calls this system PARK PILOT, and what it does is it takes full control over your parking, you don’t even have to be there. Just leave the car at the gate of the Stuttgart airport, and the car will park itself. And when you arrive, the car will be waiting for you where you left it.

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Park assistance systems reliability

The first truly large-scale experiment about park assistance system’s reliability and effectiveness took place in 2015 and was carried out by AAA UK. This test was comprised of a few different aspects such as curb strikes frequency, speed, accuracy, and the number of maneuvers.

The test concluded that with parking assist in use, drivers experienced as much as 81% fewer curb strikes, and the time it took to engage the systems and to fully park the car also decreased by around 10%. To top it all off, drivers who engaged these systems used as much as 47% fewer maneuvers which drastically improved efficiency.

But these systems are not perfect, and AAA also concluded that these systems sometimes parked the cars way too close to the curb which could in theory increase the chances of wheel curbing when you decide to leave the parking spot.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to how confident are you when it comes to parallel parking. If you consider yourself to be more than capable of parallel parking, these systems might seem like a nuisance for you, but if you lack the experience, these systems can help you immensely.


FAQ Section


Can these systems completely replace you?

No, even if they theoretically could, legally speaking we are not going to experience a complete takeover anytime soon. These systems are valuable for a small set of situations and they work better if there are no distractions nearby, but more often than not that is never the case.

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You should never rely on these systems to do anything without your complete awareness as many unwanted situations have occurred thanks to people being too confident in silicon.

What do I need to have to take advantage of these systems?

These systems are usually bundled up as option packages associated with technology. So if you tick all the right boxes you are likely to gather all the necessary items you need to self-park a car. Proximity sensors, cameras, and radars are usually what comprise these systems.

There are notable differences between the more regular and old school park assistance programs and the more advanced ones found in Tesla, BMW, or Mercedes.

Can you get self-parking with a manual car?

Manuals are different from automatics and there are loads of systems that work better with automatic gearboxes. Automated cruise control is one of them as this system cant come to a complete stop if you don’t shift the gears accordingly.

Parking assist is also a system that has to compromise depending on the transmission option. Some car manufacturers like Mercedes or Tesla don’t have to worry about this because they don’t even offer any manuals anymore, but others like Audi (that still offer manuals) offer lower levels of these assistance systems.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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