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Go park yourself – auto-parking is here

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The 2014 Mini Cooper Hatch with Park Assist

Though our surrender to our robot self-driving car overlords is still a fair way off, the people behind automated vehicles are pressing on. Cars are getting smarter and taking control away from your soft, feeble hands and squishy human brains. The latest step in your car’s plans to take over the world comes in the shape of assisted parking. Because, well, you suck at it.

As the popular Twitter account Shame A Driver (as well as other accounts which have rather crass names) is all too happy to point out, people park like idiots. Obviously, we can’t be trusted to do something as simple as get a generally-rectangular car between two straight lines. To this end, car manufacturers have been taking it upon themselves to save the stress of parking and just let the car do it instead. Below are three different bits of amazing new technology to help you park.

The parallel parker

Parallel parking is the bane of my life. On a busy road, there’s literally nothing worse. The pressure of a thousand angry motorists baring down on you, and the humiliation of not getting it right and having to pull out of the space and try again. You might get beeped at. Who wants that? Nobody, that’s who. I got beeped at once and I’ll never live it down – I still have nightmares.

Various car manufacturers are now getting rid of this embarrassment by introducing automated parallel parking. Simply drive up to a good space, press a button and the car will take hold of your steering. All you need to do is switch between forward / reverse gears and handle the pedals. Our very own Louise has just purchased a brand-spanking-new Mini with the feature, and we gave it a try around my Audi A1 and James’ Hyundai Getz. It was terrifying.

The parking bay master

So we’ve got parallel parking sorted, but what about parking bays? Some car parks have insanely tight spaces – especially as cars are always getting bigger to accomodate all this fancy tech we’re talking about – and it can be pretty difficult to get into a space if you’re in a big car, or if you’re just rubbish. Like me.

Both Ford and Volvo have declared that they’re working on assisted bay parking – with both their new Mondeo and XC90 models, respectively – but not a lot of proof of it working has come out of either company despite Ford issuing a press release back in 2012. Come on, Ford! Work faster!

 

The auto-valet parker

OK, so this technology isn’t going to be around for a little while longer, but it’s pretty awesome. At CES in 2013, Audi showed off a new piece of technology using lasers (among other things, but anything with lasers has got to be amazing) to help it drive into a multi-storey car park, park itself and then come and get you when you want to drive home. Note that in the video below, it is able to perform the aforementioned perpendicular (bay) parking. How’d you like them apples, Ford?

It’s all powered by a mobile app (because everything has to be, these days). Simply get out of your car outside the car park, press a button and it’ll drive off and find a space where it will take a cosy little nap. Then when you’re ready to be picked up, just simply buzz it with the app again, and your car will wake up and come and meet you like a metallic puppy with LEDs for eyes. Honestly, it’s incredible and I can’t wait for it to be a real thing in real production cars. Watch it in action below…

So there we have it. I, for one, welcome our new auto-parking overlords. What do you think? Is it one big waste of time, or a legitimate concern in today’s time- and attention-strapped age of millenials? Sound off in the comments or over on our Facebook page!

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