Parallel Parking: The Bane of Most Drivers
Parallel parking is the bane for most automobile drivers. Many people will go out of their way to avoid parallel parking. I’m referring to the spots where the actual five step parallel parking process is required. In my seven years of driving experience, I have successfully avoided parallel parking all together. I flunked the parallel parking section of my drivers test. I was just lucky I did well enough on the other sections to pass.
Although most people dread parallel parking, those tricky parking spots aren’t going away anytime soon. It saves much needed space in many cities and allows easy access to store fronts. To help aid us in our parallel battle, car manufacturers are developing/have developed self-parking technology. This technology will allow a guided vehicle to parallel park more efficiently than human drivers. It will also provide more parking spots due to effective parking. The average driver requires six additional feet of length to successfully park. An automated parking system would significantly reduce this wasted space.
Self-parking technology was actually developed back in 1992 by Volkswagen. The self-parking system allowed a driver to exit the vehicle and watch the car park itself. However, Volkswagen never implemented this feature into their vehicles because it would have driven up the cost of its cars by 3,000 dollars. Nowadays, some cars come with the option of adding a self-parking system, but the system is not fully autonomous. It is now only a parking aid. For example, the car may take over control of the steering but the driver must regulate the speed. I don’t know if this is a liability issue or if it’s just cheaper to make the system that way.
We already have autonomously guided vehicles in the factory setting. These vehicles are mainly used for material handling. They are controlled by a number of different methods and dramatically improve the efficiency of many manufactures. It seems like we have had self-guided vehicle technology for a while now. Perhaps self-parking will be more than a frivolous luxury in the near future. Who knows, maybe driverless cars are not so far off in the future.