Electronic valet parks the car, no tip required

 10 Jan 2014 - 6:31


A Valeo representative holds an iPhone showing the app used to initiate and monitor a driverless car while it parks, at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada. The car, a Range Rover Evoque with Valeo self-parking technology, is equipped with 12 ultrasonic sensors, six in back and six in front, a laser scanner mounted in the grille, and four cameras.

LAS VEGAS: There is no one inside the Range Rover in a Las Vegas parking lot. But it still guides its way to a parking place, after what looks like some hesitation. The self-parking is directed by an app which controls the vehicle, detects an available space and manoeuvres into it.
The “automated parking valet” created by the French equipment maker Valeo is among the technology innovations for the sector on display at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show.
While the idea of a fully autonomous car is a dream for some, this is a step which promises to alleviate at least some of the tedium facing motorists. The system allows drivers to leave their car at the entrance of a parking lot and let it find a space to park itself.  Drivers activate the feature from their smartphone, and can also use it to summon the car to pick them up.
“It’s like a brain,” said Guillaume Devauchelle, a Valeo vice president presenting the prototype system at the huge electronics expo. “It acts step by step, with a certain latitude, to be able to adapt to the situation,” Devauchelle said. 
The system does not require garages or parking lots to have special equipment, the executive said. It relies on the kinds of  sensors some cars already use, with some extra electronics. Devauchelle said the system may require a camera to recognise and avoid spaces designated for the handicapped or unusual features in a garage.
He said the system was designed to be as simple as possible so that it would not be only for luxury vehicles. “We would like to make this available to the largest number of people,” he said.
Even as carmakers work on self-driving vehicles, a number of improvements can be made along the way, Devauchelle said, indicating the parking valet is not simply a matter of convenience. It can help avoid the kinds of accidents frequent in parking areas and allow elderly people who find it difficult to make parking manoeuvres to use their cars more often.