Hella has introduced an automated parallel parking system based on ultrasonic technology and said it will begin production for one OEM in the 2009 model year. The system, which Hella said is less expensive than camera-based systems currently in use, requires a “smart” ultrasonic sensor on each side of the vehicle.
The sensor is integrated with the vehicle’s central computer, its antilock braking system and its electrical power steering system. When activated by the driver, the ultrasonic sensor measures parking spaces as the vehicle passes them. If the space is big enough, the system will send an audio or visual signal to the driver.
“All the driver would need to do at that point is press the accelerator and brake pedals while the system automatically steers the vehicle,” said Jean-Francois Tarabbia, CEO of Automotive Electronics for Hella. “The parking assistance system works about as fast as an experienced driver – within seconds – and eliminates most headaches related to parallel parking, such as determining if the parking space is the right size, moving the steering wheel correctly at the right time and backing up and pulling forward.”
Tarabbia said less-experienced drivers tend to ignore parking spaces that their vehicles actually would fit into because of the stresses involved in parallel parking, especially in hectic situations. “The driver is still in full control of the vehicle while the parallel parking maneuver is taking place and can override the system at any time by grabbing the steering wheel,” he noted.
Hella’s system calculates the optimum path the vehicle needs to take to parallel park, even taking into account curb heights. It uses wheel speed and steering angle data supplied by the wheel speed sensors. If a vehicle does not have EPS, Hella’s system can provide optical and acoustical steering instructions to the driver.
Tarabbia said the best location for the ultrasonic sensor is usually a vehicle’s A-pillar. It can be integrated with the exterior trim so as to be hardly noticeable.