Parallel parking can be a real struggle, and the thought of a car that can do it for you is a dream come true for many drivers. Well such technology does exist, and it’s called park assist.
Park assist is a system that’s been fitted to cars for longer than you may think. It uses an array of sensors and cameras around the car that can judge how big a space is and can automatically park your car in it.
This article will go over how these systems work, what they can (and can’t) do and which cars offer park assist.
How does park assist work?
The operation of park assist will vary from car to car, but it’s usually a pretty standard procedure.
There’ll be a button in the car to activate the system when you’re in a car park or on a street you wish to stop on. The sensors will then start scanning for a space big enough for your car as you drive along. Refer to your car’s owners’ manual for directions on how your system works.
Once it’s spotted a suitable slot, it will beep at you and there will usually be a display showing you what to do next.
The car will then steer you into the parking space. Some will do the accelerator and brakes for you as well, but this depends on the model. In either case, there will be a display on the dashboard with instructions on what inputs you need to make.
What are the different types of park assist?
There are a few different types of park assist systems with varying levels of automation.
Steering assisted parking
This is the most typical variety of park assist. Once the car has found a parking space, you’ll get a message on the dash telling you when to change between forward and reverse gears and when to accelerate and brake.
As the name suggests, the steering is the part that is done automatically. The wheel will spin by itself to manoeuvre you into the parking space.
Park and exit assistance
This system works much the same as steering assisted parking, only it adds the neat trick of being able to get you out of a parking space as well.
This is especially useful if you return to your car to find someone has boxed you in. It works in the same way as steering assisted parking, you control the accelerator, brakes and gears while the car deals with the steering.
Fully automated parking
As the name suggests, this system can take over all aspects of the parking process including accelerating and braking. This can require a level of trust from the driver, however there are some built-in safety features.
Most systems will need you to hold down a button for the entirety of the process, and as soon as you lift off the button the car will stop. This is also limited to cars with an automatic gearbox.
It’s worth noting that no automated system is perfect, and it still comes down to the driver to keep an eye out for hazards.
What cars have park assist?
More brands offer park assist than you might think, although they all have different names for it. Listed below are some of the brands that offer park assist, along with what they call the system.
- Audi: Parking Assist, Parking Aid Plus
- BMW: Parking Assistant, Park Assistant Plus
- Citroen: Park Assist, Active Park Assist
- Ford: Active Park Assist, Enhanced Active Park Assist
- Hyundai: Smart Park Assist
- Jaguar: Park Assist
- Kia: Smart Park Assist
- Mini: Parking assist
- Mercedes: Parktronic, Active Parking Assist
- Nissan: Intelligent Park Assist
- Peugeot: Park Assist
- Renault: EasyPark Assist
- Seat: Park Assist
- Skoda: Park Assist
- Suzuki: Simple intelligent parking assist
- Tesla: AutoPark
- Toyota: Intelligent Parking Assistant
- Vauxhall: Advanced Park Assist
- Volkswagen: Park Assist
- Volvo: Park Assist Pilot
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