The Car that Parks Itself

For every driver able to brag about their parking prowess, there are many more for whom the prospect of an attempt at parallel parking spells only one thing… dread.

But now, for all unconfident practitioners of the art, a prototype from car manufacturer Nissan heralds the possibility of a less stressful driving experience.

That’s because this vehicle, which goes by the catchy name of the NSC-2015, can without any help or intervention from the driver slot itself into spaces that might challenge even a veteran parker.

If that weren’t enough, this car is also able to look out for vacant spaces all by itself, and having detected one, begin its own automated parking manoeuvres without prompting. That means you could, when running late, just step out of the car on reaching your destination and send it to park itself at leisure. This Nissan can also be summoned like a puppy dog using a mobile phone when your appointment is over and will come to where you’re waiting for it.

Being able to park is one thing, but this car also needs to be able to move safely along the street. This is done by recognising road markings, so that it knows where and when to stop at crossings and junctions.

To perform such motoring magic the car relies on a combination of sensors, cameras, computers and 4G communication technology for navigation, with robotic systems turning the steering wheel, changing gears and braking.

Such autonomous technology has been a car industry Holy Grail for years, and with a number of other driverless cars being unwrapped in recent months, the idea of the driverless car is beginning to gain traction in the market place. Indeed three US states - California, Nevada and Florida - already allow self driving cars on their roads.

So far, the NSC-2015 has yet to hit the open road and has been confined to an area where the only traffic is other robot cars.

However, given the appeal of improved car safety as well as greater convenience, the technology is likely to establish itself quickly within the mass car market - the 2015 in the prototype’s name is perhaps an indication of when Nissan are looking to take it to market. Not only could that be a good thing for individual motorists, but it also conjures up the prospect of more efficient interaction between drivers and urban spaces.

First, other drivers won't have to wait as the brave, but unskilled, make multiple attempts to get into a space. That should speed up traffic flow.

Second, motorists will be able to park nearer to where they want to be, rather than having to drive around finding the largest parking space possible into which they can get.

Third, car parks can perhaps be laid out more efficiently, knowing that cars will be able to get into a bay which human drivers would baulk at attempting.

All of which means that if you’re not the best of parkers, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. So watch this space.

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