Auto Safety Confusion
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What It Is and How It Works

WHAT IS IT?

There are several different types of automatic parking systems on the market, but they are all designed to perform a similar task: park your car. Some can perform the entire procedure—be it a parallel or head-in scenario—automatically, while others simply provide directional assistance so that the driver knows when to turn the steering wheel and when to stop. The latter is typically referred to as "parking assist," while the former is a true “automatic parking” system.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Parking systems use either cameras, ultrasonic sensors or both to determine the approximate size of the space between two parked vehicles. Once a suitable spot is found, a built-in computer calculates the necessary steering angles and speed at which the vehicle can move to navigate safely into that spot. In fully automated systems, the computer takes control of the car’s drive-by-wire system and steers the vehicle into the spot with little (tells the driver when to initiate acceleration and braking) to no input from the driver. Some systems can even reverse the process; i.e., steer you out of the spot at the touch of a button.

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