New Electronic Parking Assistant ready for production

Finding and using a suitable roadside parking space will soon be quite simple, thanks to intelligent sensor systems. Hella’s ‘electronic parking assistant’ allows the driver to park comfortably and safely in tight parking spaces along the roadside.

As the vehicle passes the space, an ultrasound sensor (developed by Hella and containing its own intelligence which enables it to assess the surroundings according to the current situation) measures the gap. If it is big enough, the parking manoeuvre can be started. All the driver has to do is press the accelerator and brake pedals. All the steering movement takes place automatically. Hella will be introducing the electronic parking assistant system into series production in 2009.

“Most of the headaches related to parking up into roadside parking spaces are caused by trying to assess the size of the parking space correctly in a busy situation,” says Hella development engineer, Thomas Ottenhues. “Less experienced drivers leave spaces that would actually be big enough for their cars. Now these edgy and stressful parking situations can be mastered effortlessly using the electronic parking assistant system.” Mor information

As soon as the system detects a suitable parking space it gives the driver a signal. If this is confirmed by the driver stopping and engaging the reverse gear, or pressing a certain button – depending on the system design – the assistant takes over the parking procedure. The driver takes his hands off the wheel, watches the traffic space and controls the parking manoeuvre by accelerating and braking – the vehicle glides precisely into the space in one move within seconds and then has to be driven forward a few feet before the relaxed driver gets out.

“Parking spaces are measured up as the vehicle drives past with the aid of a strongly astigmatic ultrasound sensor,” explains Mr Ottenhues. This means that the parking space is measured in portions, so to speak. The length and depth of the parking space are determined with the curb taken into account. If the system determines that the parking space is suitable, the driver is given an optical-acoustic signal. “

In order to carry out the parking procedure in one move, the system calculates the optimum path (trajectory) on the basis of the map of the environment prepared by the sensor. With the aid of paths, the curves of which are adapted continually during travel into the parking space, the system ensures a continuous angled movement with minimum steering forces, so that the vehicle can be steered automatically into the parking space without the driver touching the steering wheel.

“It is important to remember, however, that the driver still bears full responsibility for the parking manoeuvre and takes an active part by depressing the accelerator and brake pedals,” adds Ottenhues. If necessary, the procedure can be aborted at any time by taking hold of the steering wheel.

Hella is developing the system for the automotive industry and its straightforward design is extremely convincing: One LIN-bus capable smart sensor per vehicle side communicates with the central computer unit. This allows simple integration of the system into the vehicle. Since the other measuring data required, namely “wheel speed” and “steering angle”, are usually provided by ABS or ESP functions, no further external sensors are necessary

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