December 14, 2006 Touch parking, the method of parking employed inevitably across the world’s crowded urban canyons by millions of people a day, could become a thing of the past. Judging the size of a parking space – whether a car can actually fit in the available space - is one of the keys to successful parking and a new invention from Bosch will offer just that facility. The Citroen C4 Picasso has become the world's first car to feature integrated parking space measurement. The Bosch driver assistance system tells the vehicle's driver whether the prospective parking space is long enough for the car. The parking space measurement in the C4 Picasso is based on the Bosch parking assistant, which helps drivers avoid shunting other cars and obstacles while parking. Besides the standard four ultrasound sensors on the vehicle front and rear, two extra sensors have been added for parking space measurement, one on either side of the front bumper.
Parking space measurement is easy to operate – on finding a parking space, the driver activates the system via a button on the steering wheel. The system establishes which side the space is on by identifying which turn signal is in use. While driving past – at a speed of up to 20 kilometers per hour – the sensor then gauges the space. The assistant indicates to the driver via the central display whether the gap is big enough for the car, a tight squeeze, or simply too small. The same visual and acoustic signals that feature in the parking assistant then warn the driver of any obstacles. Bosch parking space measurement also works for parking spaces that are on a slight curve.
There are many advantages to the new Bosch parking space measurement system. From the viewpoint of drivers, it is above all an inexpensive addition to the parking assistant. Clearly identifying the length of spaces helps avoid fruitless attempts at parking, thus saving both time and stress. Automatic measurement also enables smaller spaces to be used that the driver might otherwise reject as being too small. As a result, drivers can concentrate more on traffic and cause less disruption to following vehicles. And, as the parking assistant analyzes signals from all ten ultrasound sensors, including the two additional outer sensors integrated into the front bumper, it provides greater protection for the front corners of the vehicle during parking maneuvers.
The future of the parking assistant
Bosch will soon release more functional enhancements for its ultrasound-based parking assistant. At the beginning of 2008, a system will be going into series production that will both measure the length of a space and suggest the best way to steer and maneuver into the space. A further development level in the same year will make it possible to directly control electrically supported steering – the driver will only need to operate the gas pedal and brake, while the parking assistant will take care of the steering.
These systems are part of a whole range of driver assistance systems produced by the world's leading supplier of automotive equipment, some of which are already available on the market, some of which will be ready for series production in the next few years. They offer the car driver a greater level of convenience, but also improve driving safety – a major reassurance for drivers, especially given the increase in traffic density and mileage driven.