Market research shows that 70% of car drivers are interested in automatic parking systems to avoid parallel parking, if effective and available at a reasonable cost. Parking systems based on cameras and radar are limited, cumbersome, and expensive. They also require significant involvement of the driver in parking the car, and don’t work on hills.
With existing market strength and experience in ultrasonic sensor-based park assist systems, Valeo was able to develop Park4U as an inexpensive, easy to use, effective automated parking system that leverages technologies already present in many vehicles. Adding additional sensors to an existing front and rear ultrasonic parking assist system, they were able to make precise direct measurement of the parking slot between the bumpers of already parked cars and the curb. The trajectory to park the car is calculated by the electronic control unit, which then controls the parking maneuver until parking is completed. This is the first time a production vehicle detects its environment and autonomously steers around obstacles into a target space based on what it detects.
The process of finding a parking space is begun by pressing the Park4U button. Lateral sensors scan both sides of the street and measure the lengths of empty spaces. When a parking space is detected, the driver is alerted to pull up and put the vehicle in reverse. The driver releases the steering wheel but retains control of the accelerator and brakes to stop, slow, speed up, or continue the vehicle’s progress at will. The parking sensors also inform the driver if there are any objects in the vehicle’s path, and the driver then decides if he or she must stop the vehicle. At the end of the parking operation performed by the system, if the vehicle is not aligned correctly, the steering wheels are turned towards the curb automatically and the rest of the maneuver is carried out by the driver.
Park 4U was first installed by VW on its Touran (April 2007), exceeding their annual volume target in the first 6 months, and the Tiguan followed. So far Park4U is committed on 7 car brands, 20 vehicle models.