Teaching vehicles to park independently of us

Normally, it is people who have to learn how to park their cars – and it is certainly not the most popular task among drivers. Therefore, technology company Continental has developed a solution, which at least can relieve drivers from recurring parking routines.

On request, the new ‘Trained Parking’ function records and stores the sequence of a parking procedure. When the procedure is to be repeated, the driver drives the vehicle near where the recording began and, at the touch of a button, the vehicle independently performs the previously learned parking procedure.

“Parking procedures, such as from the house door into the garage, show how effective automation already is in vehicles today,” explained Alfred Eckert, head of advanced technology in Continental’s Chassis & Safety division. “When it comes to repeating processes, automation is already unbeatable in terms of reliability. Furthermore, the technology is getting ever better at detecting and handling changing situations.”

For the Trained Parking function, Continental uses sensors already available in the vehicle, such as cameras and radars, to detect the surroundings. “Trained Parking is therefore a good example of how sensor technology in vehicles can efficiently be put to multiple use,” said Eckert.

When learning, for example the first time the route is driven manually, the system generates a precise map of the surroundings from the sensor data and then stores this map. When the vehicle is in the area covered by this map, it can determine its precise position and automatically drive the learned route.

The driver can exit the vehicle before activating the parking procedure as the vehicle parks without driver assistance. In doing so, ‘Trained Parking’ not only relieves the driver from a tedious routine, but it also allows vehicles to park in tight spaces in parking garages without the driver having to stress about getting out.

Trained Parking will be available in two versions. The variant that will be presented as part of New Mobility World at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September is partially automated and still requires supervision by the driver. It works according to the dead-man’s switch principle, meaning that the function is only active as long as the driver continues to press a button on a key or mobile phone. This is expected to be in series production in 2020.

The next development step is the fully automated variant, which does not require any driver supervision.

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