NPR talks about the self-parking Lexus LS 460 L

Do you find yourself tensing up when you realize you have to parallel park? Do you pass potential parking places because you’re not sure you can get your car in? Have you heard about the auto-parking feature from Lexus? Perhaps you’ve thought “If only I could afford that, I could park anywhere.” Well, before getting too hopeful, perhaps you should listen to this audio clip from Talk of the Nation, in which the hosts talks to someone who tested the auto-park feature on the car.

The end result is that to get the car to park, you have to pull the car up far enough for the passenger door to be next to the front of the car in front of the parking space you want. Then, you have to activate the auto-park feature. Then, you have to use the control panel to line up a square on the auto-park display showing where you want to park. Then, control the brake as the vehicle backs into the spot and turns the wheel as needed to fit. It’s a little cumbersome, but it really doesn’t sound too bad for hands-off parallel parking. Until you hear that the system also requires a parking spot that is 6.5 feet longer than the car is, at which point almost anyone could park manually.

This is truly first-generation, and I expect this feature to improve rapidly. I wouldn’t be surprised to see parking in much, much tighter spaces on other luxury cars within 2-3 years, and eventually even auto-parking system on more mainstream cars within a decade (auto-park minivan for the stressed out soccer-mom, anyone?). It really is a neat feature, and I think that just getting the feature out is necessary to start the whole rapid-improvement cycle we are accustomed to with all things technical.

[tags]NPR talks auto-parking Lexus, The good and bad of the Lexus LS 460 L automatic parallel parking system[/tags]