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Smart New Lexus Car Parks Itself

By David Worrall | Tuesday | 19/02/2008

Parallel parking has suddenly become a lot easier, according to Lexus, which is showing off its self-parking car - the LS 600hL at the Melbourne International Motor Show.

Not just a feature for concept cars, the self-parking technology is available on the Lexus' LS 600hL and LS 460 models.

The Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) system is designed to assist drivers in entering parallel or series parking spaces. It employs a rear camera and ultrasonic sensors to identify parking spaces and calculate the appropriate steering angle to guide the vehicle into the chosen space, the company says.

The rear camera is mounted adjacent to the rear number plate and the ultrasonic sensors are mounted on either side of the front number plate. The system controls the steering automatically to guide the vehicle into the targeted parking position identified by the driver via a navigation screen.

No steering input is required from the driver, who merely controls vehicle speed (to a maximum of 4km/h) during the manoeuvre by using the brake pedal.

For parallel parking, the driver slowly drives past the intended parking space, allowing the system's sonar sensors to detect the available space, before stopping just beyond the space in a normal manner. After the driver shifts into reverse gear and selects the parallel parking option, the IPA control unit determines the target parking position.

It calculates both the parking trajectory and required steering angle, while a view of the target parking position is projected onto the centre console's Electro Multi-Vision (EMV) touch-screen.

The driver then confirms acceptance of the target position and activates the system. After the driver has checked traffic conditions to ensure that it is safe to reverse, the driver releases the brake pedal and the vehicle begins reversing at a slow speed.

The system monitors vehicle speed via the drivetrain and brake system electronic control units, and automatically controls the electric power steering to guide the vehicle into the targeted parking position.

The IPA system will also help execute "series" parking manoeuvres in a similar fashion.

While the IPA system automatically controls the steering during either parallel or series parking manoeuvres, the driver is responsible for both controlling the speed and stopping the vehicle using the brake pedal.

The driver can deactivate the IPA at any time through either throttle or steering input or shifting out of Reverse gear or cancelling it via the EMV touch-screen.

Of course, Lexus warns that IPA is a driver-assist device only, and it doesn't mean you'll be able to park if you failed your Ps test. IPA should not be used as a substitute for skilled driving and safe parking practices, says Lexus. The driver should watch the area into which the vehicle is to be reversed, react appropriately and ensure compliance with all road rules. Intelligent Park Assist requires driver brake control.

The Lexus LS 600hL will be on display at the Motor Show from 29 February to 10 March.

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