As a woman, I find the various gadgets making it easier to operate your everyday automobile fascinating. A sensor to check your blind spot for you? Brilliant. Adaptive suspension? Perfect for more sophisticated drivers. But even more fascinating, however, is the subsequent impact upon the "guy things" about operating the automobile.
Manual transmission is a prime example of this. Even with new dual-clutch gearboxes, which have proven themselves to be more effective than manual transmissions, guys are still teaching their sons to drive stick. Why? Not because they envision valet service careers for thier sons, but rather because the guy who can't operate a vehicle with manual transmission will get called out by his peers later in life.
When high-performance automakers like Porsche signed on with dual-clutch gearboxes and the media gave more advanced versions of the technology a thumbs-up, guys seem to be slowly getting over needing to punch the clutch pedal and have something to shift. I have yet to see a guy (or most women, for that matter) who didn't smirk in satisfaction after a particularly impressive parallel parking job.
Bosch has come up with a system that will help us out, but still give us enough responsibility that we'll be smirking afterwards. Introduced on the Citroen C4 Picasso, Bosch's system makes the vehicle "the world's first car to feature integrated parking space measurement," according to the supplier. Drive by at up to 12.5 mph, press a button to initiate the system, and six sensors measure the parallel parking space, alerting the driver to whether the space is too small, "a tight squeeze," or will work just perfectly.
While it doesn't park the car itself like the Lexus LS 460 or the Toyota Prius, Bosch hopes to have that capability online by 2008.