Great Parking Job! Did You Do It?

I was reading this month’s issue of Car & Driver and it had a preview of the new Lexus LS460. This is Lexus’s new flagship luxury sedan. It’s filled with every imaginable amenity known to man, including a reclining back seat that gives massages. What really caught my eye was automatic parallel parking system. Yes! This car can park itself! This should be a must have option for most of Richmond’s drivers (if you’ve ever been to Richmond, you’ll understand). Then I read what it takes to operate the system.

To parallel park, you must stop somewhat forward of the car in front of the empty space so the camera can “see“ the two cars bordering the spot. Select parallel-parking mode while in reverse (there’s also a mode for a parking-lot space), and a box pops up showing where the system thinks you want to end up. The exact position has to be manually tweaked via arrows on the touch screen to ensure there’s no car clipping, and this probably adds 20 seconds to the process. After that, hit “okay,” and the LS460 takes control of the electrically assisted power steering. It won’t operate at full idle speed, however, so you must ride the brake. We tried it a few times and got the feeling that someone could nab your spot by the time you get everything dialed in.

Now I know this is perfect for Richmond drivers! It will ensure that I always get a free parking spot because they’ll all be spending time tweaking their parking spot on that LCD screen! If it takes Car & Drivers 20 second to set up auto park, it should take the average Richmond driver 20 minutes. I wonder if you can use this feature on a road test?

As with most new technologies, expect faster-acting versions in the future. However, I have to wonder. Do we really need a car that can park itself? What next? A cruise control that can follow the car in front of you and speed/brake as needed to maintain its distance? Oh wait, they already have that. Ah, the wonders of technology.

12 thoughts on “Great Parking Job! Did You Do It?”

  1. Matthew says:

    I came across this BMW self parking car once. It doesnt show any configuring time although it could still be the 20 seconds of manually adjusting it…

    This one looks cool too…

  2. rafa says:

    These ‘features’ only serve to make drivers even dumber than they already are. How about instead of auto-parking we actually require people to know how to drive before giving them a license?

  3. M360 says:

    Bill Gates…Steve Jobs…both agree that they can’t use it.

  4. Jim says:

    Rafa, your attitude is the exact same one that some older programmers have. People don’t need gui’s! They should have to learn how to use command lines! What do they need those fancy reports for? They can count the data values now with command line functions!

  5. Jack says:

    This feature, like the auto following cruise control, are evolutionary steps to a fully automated vehicle. The inbetween stages are not that interesting to me. I can’t wait for the fully automated car, though.

    Human beings suck at driving. Unless we are on a race course racing for a prize we see driving as an impediment to being somewhere. Most of us barely pay attention when we drive. If every car on the road could drive itself and could communicate with all the other cars around it getting somewhere would be more predictable and safer.

    So maybe I won’t opt in for this feature but I am happy they are making progress on the path to fully automated cars.

  6. Marcus says:

    I think that this is a fairly useless feature. Automatic features in cars seem to lull drivers into a state of inattention.

  7. Bad Driver says:

    I just need a car that do the rest of the driving.

  8. rafa says:

    Jim, while I understand your point, the problem with drivers becoming dumber makes for a more dangerous road. While a fully automated car would be a welcome addition, these baby steps make a driver less attentive to what’s actually happening. It reminds me of an article Jay Leno wrote on the exact same subject (

    Honestly, I bitch about it but I think it’s great technology. My real gripe should be with the DMV for letting most anyone drive, as opposed to the tech involved.

  9. Matthew says:

    This method is always an even quicker option!

  10. Iconic Point says:

    Volvo also has their own version of the self parking.
    since it is a volvo safety will be tops that will be needed when you take the human out the equation of driving.

  11. Ameeya says:

    I have seen a video of the Lexus system in action, and it is a HUGE pain to configure the damn thing. I would never use that.

    The BMW system is FAR superior, as it is self configuring, only requiring that you drive by the space at a speed under 20 kmh.

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