Forget self-driving cars. The future is all about self-parking cars.
For anyone still traumatized from learning how to parallel park, a new patent from Bay Area-based electric vehicle company SF Motors will soothe your bumper-filled nightmares.
The company’s approved patent for design and methodology for a self-parking system takes sensors, cameras, and LIDAR (a laser system to measure distance between objects) to supply data to a computer that can direct the car on how to park. The system with sensors is mounted on the car at bumper level for prime parking data collection.
A look at the patent application approved last month shows how the sensors tell the parking system about objects that may exist as well as how far away they are. In the patent, SF Motors says the cameras can identify pedestrians, cyclists, cars, parking spot lines, markers, signs, curbs, trees, roads, and other things you’d find on a street or in a parking lot.
It’s like that self-docking boat from Volvo, but way more useful for all of us who actually have a car. SF Motors says the self-parking feature can work in most conditions regardless of the weather or visibility outside. “Hand, facial or body gestures or cues to signal intentions between human operators can be limited or impossible under poor visibility conditions such as at night or during poor weather,” the patent reads, knocking humans abilities to gauge whether you’ll actually fit into that spot or not.
This also seems like a swipe at Tesla’s self-parking and summon features available on its driver assistance system, Autopilot. Tesla’s autonomous parking capabilities are fairly limited to clear-cut spots like those in lots or in garages.
Now that SF Motors has the patent, they want to incorporate it into their vision for an intelligent electric vehicle that has other autonomous features, like those that help with safe driving.
The company plans to have its first vehicle equipped with features like this autonomous parking sensor available in China toward the end of next year.