April 23, 2008 Minor collisions as a result of parking mishaps are a common, costly and extremely frustrating occurrence and for several years auto manufacturers including BMW have indicated that solutions that take human error out of the equation are on the way. The latest news in the area comes from Volkswagen, which has demonstrated its “Park Assist Vision” system at this year’s Hanover Fair. The fully-automatic, remotely-operated self-parking system lets you get out of the car and watch as it backs itself into even the skinniest of perpendicular spaces, using cameras located in the left and right exterior mirrors to gauge the dimensions of the parking area available and communicate this information to the computerized steering and drive systems.

In addition to the cameras on the exterior mirrors, “Park Assist Vision” utilizes cameras at the front and rear of the vehicle and ultrasound sensors to monitor the operation and stop the vehicle if necessary. To operate the system, the driver simply selects an available space on the monitor of the navigation system and sets the automatic-drive vehicle (DSG) lever to “P”. Users can wither exit the car (handy given the narrow spaces on offer in most modern shopping center lots) and use a remote control to initiate the auto-park or remain inside the car throughout the operation. The driver can also interrupt the manoeuvre at any time using the remote control and when complete, the car automatically cuts the engine and locks the doors.

Currently in trial phase with no word yet on when it might enter series production, the new driver assistance system was demonstrated in a Passat prototype - a vehicle that also featured in another recent feat of automotive automation - the DARPA Urban Challenge.

The development of the new system is a follow-on from the semi-automatic park-steering capability offered by the company on its Touran, Tiguan, Passat and Passat estate models.

Further reading: BMW redefines Safe Parking.