Parking assistance features like proximity warnings and driver-monitored hands-free parking have become common conveniences across most vehicle classes.
But as consumers increasingly demand more advanced parking features, it is becoming clear that autonomous parking systems must be designed as safety-critical technologies, not just as mere conveniences. A vehicle that is parking itself must be fully aware of nearby pedestrians, cognizant of all the available space around it and intelligent enough to use that information to execute the maneuver safely and efficiently.
That means that technologies used in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) for driving on local streets are critical to ensuring higher performance and safety when it comes to parking assistance. The same sensors and machine learning intelligence that power ADAS in complex urban driving scenarios and in difficult lighting and weather conditions will play key roles in automated parking as it evolves.
While many parking automation features rely primarily on ultrasonic sensors and cameras, state-of-the-art radar enhanced with artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) has significant advantages over other forms of sensing. Using radar to interpret a parking environment transforms the way in which a vehicle can plan and carry out parking tasks.
Enhanced radar data, fused with inputs from cameras and ultrasonic sensors, enables safe, reliable parking features with increasing levels of vehicle automation. For example, OEMs can use radar to identify an open parking space from a sufficient distance to pull into it directly, without going so slowly as to frustrate nearby drivers. Other sensing modalities often require the vehicle to first drive past the space when traveling at typical parking lot speeds. Intelligent radar systems can also map a parking area and be trained to navigate it later, and radar will let Level 4 autonomous cars safely drive away to park themselves in a garage and return on demand.
As parking assistance features evolve from Level 2 to Level 4 and beyond, unlocking increasing degrees of autonomy, the most capable and cost-efficient parking automation solutions will be those that combine ADAS cruising innovations with the power of AI-enabled radar.