By Jeff Gilbert

TROY (WWJ) – Your next car could come with its own valet parking attendant.

“Nobody likes to park,” said Jean-Francois Tarabbia, vice president of research and development and product marketing at auto supplier Valeo. “That’s why we developed ‘Automated Valet Parking.”

VIDEO: WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert tells us about Valeo’s self-parking car.

It’s a system that, Tarrabia says, allows the driver to get out of the vehicle, and use a smart phone app to tell the car or truck to go find its own parking space.

“At the entrance to the garage, you step out, give the instructions to the smart phone and the car will park by itself.”

Valeo demonstrating the technology to reporters at their North American Headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Troy.

The system uses 12 ultrasonic sensors, four cameras and one laser scanner. The vehicle will move through a parking lot or garage, wind its way around any obsticles—stop for any pedestrian, and look for an open parking space.

It will then maneuver its way into that space.

“You can drop it off at a parking structure, at a parking lot, at an airport. at a mall,” says Valeo engineer Sam Azuz. “It will go ahead. It will find a parking slot. It will notify you. The vehicle will go ahead and do the parking maneuver.”

That same smart-phone app, Azuz says, allows you to monitor what the vehicle is doing, and call for it to return and pick you up.

We’re already seeing vehicle that are capable of parking themselves, with the driver behind the wheel, monitoring activities. Ford has shown a concept vehicle that allows a driver to step out of the car, and watch the vehicle park itself.

This could be on a production vehicle in two to three years, if drivers—and authorities—are able to accept the idea of a car moving through a parking lot or garage with nobody behind the wheel.

R and D chief Tarabbia says when it comes to automated systems like this, the question is less about technology and more about acceptance.

“We have to rely on the speed of the legislation,” he said. “From the technical point of view, there are many cases where the technology is ready.

Valeo promotes the system as something that could prevent parking related accidents, and—with a driver freed up to do something else—a system that could save a week’s worth of productive time every year.

It boils down to safety and convenience, says Azuz.

“It’s safety, in the case of you’re parked very far at the end of the night, and don’t want to walk all the way to the car,” he said. “Convenience, if you’re a mother with a couple of children and you want to enter the mall immediately.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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