Self-driving cars are the future of the auto industry, but there are many years and intermediate steps between now and driverless roads. Bosch made one of those important baby steps earlier this month when it unveiled its Home Zone Park Assist, which takes automated parking to the next level.

The system works like this: a driver pulls up to where they'd normally begin to angle into a preferred parking spot. The driver then sets the start point and slowly drives the car into place so the system can learn the route. After the route is entered, the driver can let the car take control by either holding down a button inside the vehicle or on a smartphone app to engage the self-parking program from outside the car. Twelve ultrasonic sensors, a rear-facing stereo video camera, and four radar sensors work together to slot the car safely into or out of a spot perfectly every time.

If you don't start in the same place every time that's okay, because the car can deviate from the original start and stop points by up to six and a half feet. The system can track up to 100 meters' worth of complex maneuvers, perfect for anyone tired of backing out of long, curvy, or steep driveways. Bosch says the system will be available in a few years but doesn't mention any specific models.

Other companies have similar technologies, but they're not quite as advanced. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently cleared a similar technology called Park Assistant Plus for use in the BMW 7 Series. BMW's technology allows drivers to move the car in and out of parking spaces with the key fob. Tesla's Summon feature allows the Model S and X to come when called up to 10 meters away. But Bosch seems to have pushed the boundaries of what autonomous features on cars can do. Besides superior distance, the really amazing aspect of Bosch's system is that it allows cars to sense obstacles within its path and make the decision whether to proceed with minor course adjustments or stop and wait for its owner. That's right, a decision-making car. Welcome to the brave new world.

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