August 1 2006 BMW drivers will soon be able to garage their cars by remote control and boost child safety at the same time. The prototype BMW Remote Park Assist allows drivers to stand beside their car while it parks itself in their garage. The car can be reversed from the parking place with the driver monitoring pedestrian traffic, removing the risk of reversing into children or pets. Vehicle guidance is controlled via the key fob and the car moves at 2.5 km/h, half walking speed. As soon as button on the key fob is released the car stops moving. Guidance is controlled via sensors and a special mirror mounted in the garage. The car is retrieved from its parking space in an exact reversal of the parking manoeuvre. Sensors detect obstructions and guide the car around them. BMW Remote Park Assist is ideal for restricted inner city parking spaces such as town house developments and apartment buildings. The prototype system was revealed in Munich at the BMW Innovations Day last month.
The test car used to demonstrate this technology, a BMW 7 Series, was equipped with a video camera fitted at the same level as the interior mirror to monitor the area in front of the car. This camera is similar to the units also used in other driver assistance systems such as Lane Departure Warning.
A special reflector in the middle of the farside garage wall is covered by the camera in the approach process. The position and alignment of the car in front of the garage is then determined by evaluating the reflector image detected by the camera, an electric motor on the steering system correcting the steering when required as the car makes its way into the garage.
This control function is supplemented by the Park Distance Control (PDC) sensors determining the distance from possible obstacles. If necessary, therefore, the entire parking process can be interrupted in order to avoid collisions.
The system computer masterminds the automatic engine start/stop function, the choice of gears, the steering and PDC. It also activates the brakes, headlights, and hazard warning flashers, with the exterior mirrors being automatically folded in when parking and folded out again when the car leaves the garage.
The driver provides and generates the instructions for fully automatic parking via the central locking button on the remote control, therefore supervising the entire parking manoeuvre. To do this, the driver first drives up forwards and, as far as possible, in a straight line in front of the garage, shifts the automatic selector lever to position “P”, switches off the engine, and gets out of the car. Then, double-clicking the locking button on the remote control, he activates the parking system.
As soon as the video camera has detected the reflector on the farside wall of the garage, and once the reflector has been identified by the computer, the fully automatic Garage Parking Assistant will calculate the appropriate approach trajectory. PDC remains active throughout this entire process in order to detect potential obstacles in front of or within the garage. Then, as soon as the exterior mirrors have been folded in, the driver again presses the locking button in order to activate the system. Now the transmission will shift automatically to the “D” mode, enabling the car to automatically proceed forwards at dead slow speed by interchanging between transmission positions “D” and “N”.
The driver must keep the door locking button pressed down the whole time during this parking process – should he let go, the car will stop immediately.
Taking the data provided by the camera, the computer constantly monitors the position of the car versus the reflector. Should the position and the car’s trajectory not be precisely on course, the electric motor integrated in the steering will correct the trajectory as required.
The Remote Park Assist also makes sure that the car approaches the entrance to the garage in a straight line and exactly in the middle at the earliest possible point, since the door opening generally marks the narrowest section of the passage to be covered.
Finally the car rolls slowly up to the farside wall of the garage with its lights switched on, automatically coming to a stop at the right point. The brake function required for this purpose is provided by the electromechanical parking brake. Then the system switches off the engine and headlights and the entire process is finished.
To leave the garage, the system is activated in the same way as before once the garage gate has been opened, with the driver operating the remote control twice. This will first start the engine and then activate PDC. Subsequently the car will drive slowly out of the garage in reverse, with the hazard warning flashers switched on.
Since the entire process of parking the car is saved within the computer, the car leaving the garage will maintain exactly the same trajectory and stop at precisely the point where the driver previously started the parking manoeuvre.
The system’s next operation is to unlock the doors and switch off the hazard warning flashers. Should the driver then fail to open his door within a certain period, the system will automatically switch the engine off again and re-lock the car.
This automatic Garage Parking System shows impressively how the camera and ultrasound sensors are able to interact and provide an extremely functional and efficient system making life much easier for the driver. And at the same time this innovation clearly underlines the leading position of the BMW Group in the development of the most advanced and sophisticated automotive systems.