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Valeo reveals Valet Park4U automated parking system

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October 11, 2013

A rendering of a Valet Park4U user

A rendering of a Valet Park4U user

Valeo recently introduced its Valet Park4U system, becoming one of the latest manufacturers to reveal its vision for self-parking cars. More of a self-contained vehicle technology than other autonomous parking systems, the Valet Park4U system eliminates the need for advanced car-to-lot communications, relying entirely on onboard systems.

Previously detailed automated parking systems from the likes of Volvo and Audi rely to some extent on vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, gathering data from the lot in navigating to an open parking spot. The Valeo system works independently of the parking facility, relying entirely on onboard systems. Because of this autonomy, it could presumably be used in virtually any parking lot, whereas systems that rely on vehicle-to-infrastructure communications require compatible parking facilities.

Outside of that difference, the Valet Park4U is quite similar to other systems. Drop the car off at the lot entrance; activate self-parking via smartphone; and be on your way. You'll receive a notification when the car is safe and sound in a parking spot. The driver activates the system again when it's time to drive off, and the car maneuvers its way around to meet him or her at the exit.

Valeo's hardware consists of a laser scanner, 12 ultrasonic sensors and four cameras. This combination enables the car to maintain awareness of its surroundings, navigate around any obstacles, identify an empty space, effectively maneuver to and into the parking space, and send real-time images back to the owner's smartphone.

One question that we have about the Park4U system is what happens if the parking lot is full. With vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, this information would presumably be available before the driver steps out. Without any type of communications with the parking facility, the vehicle might not know that there are no spaces available. Ideally, there will be a "lot full" sign, but that's not always the case.

Valeo tells us that "the vehicle continues to look for a parking space until it finds it," which doesn't sound all that practical for overcrowded lots (think the local shopping mall the weekend before the holidays). In fact, thinking about an unmanned car driving around in circles for hours is a bit comical and, possibly, scary.

Valeo introduced and demonstrated its new technology at last month's Frankfurt Motor Show. Its press materials do not indicate when or where we might see the technology, and while the company sent an email response answering several of our questions, it did not provide any information about the launch date or form.

The Valet Park4U is the next generation of Valeo's Park4U technology. The latest generation parks with the driver in the car, providing steering and braking capabilities. It is available on such vehicles as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class.

Source: Valeo

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
3 Comments

I like it.

Why is an autonomous operation car wondering around for hours looking for a parking spot scary? I mean aside from the crowd in the mall.

Slowburn
12th October, 2013 @ 02:55 pm PDT

It should be easy enough to have a car-counter at the entrance/exit to keep track of the number of cars in the lot, and self parking cars can update the data base of any empty parking spots it passes on its way out.

Perhaps they can have the furthest spot in the lot reserved for the very first self parking car of the day and update the data base of the locations of all the open spots it passed on the way in.

With the data base info and the car counter; a very accurate capacity count can be achieved even if most of the cars in the lot are non-self-parking.

kelvint63
14th October, 2013 @ 12:02 pm PDT

Having 20 or 30 self-drive cars roaming around looking for a spot in a full car park would be comical. What happens when they get boxed in - maybe they can talk to each other? "I was here first!" - ends up as the auto version of a human punch-up?

Piri
14th October, 2013 @ 03:17 pm PDT
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