A Valeo-developed autonomous valet parking system enables an SUV to park itself as the driver watches from outside the vehicle.Standing a few feet from a driverless 2014 MY Range Rover Evoque, a Valeo engineer touches a smartphone screen to start the automated parking process.
“A 360-degree bird’s eye view of the vehicle is relayed back to the driver’s smartphone. The phone indicates what gear the vehicle is in and the vehicle’s speed, and the driver has the ability to press pause, resume, and cancel,” Sam Azuz, Project Technical Manager for Ultrasonic Systems R&D in Valeo’s Comfort and Driving Assistance Systems Business Group, told Automotive Engineering during a June demonstration outside Valeo North America’s headquarters in Troy, MI.
Valeo’s self-park system uses the Tier One supplier’s 12 ultrasonic sensors, its 360Vue system comprised of 4-megapixel digital cameras with image processing software, and a Valeo-produced laser scanner (developed in partnership with Ibeo Automotive Systems GmbH) mounted on the vehicle’s front lower grille. The patented laser scanner with built-in ECU has a 140-degree opening angle. “It sees quite wide, and it sees forward about 200 m (656 ft) to assist with the exploration mode of detecting objects and defining its path while driving itself,” said Azuz, an electrical engineer.
Also during the demonstration, a 2012 MY Volkswagen Eos concept showed Valeo’s near-term, autonomous parking solution. “With the Eos, the driver needs to keep a finger on the smartphone the entire time the vehicle is self-parking. If you find a parking spot that is too tight or you are just not comfortable parking, this system handles the tasks of steering, braking, accelerating, and shifting to park the vehicle, but not the task of finding the parking spot,” Azuz said.
Jean-Francois Tarabbia, Valeo group Senior Vice President, R&D and Product Marketing, said in an interview with Automotive Engineering that vehicles with autonomous parking capabilities typically prompt a different consumer response than fully self-driving vehicles.
“The acceptance is better because the car is driving in low-speed, so people do not really feel any threat of an accident. It appears safer, and it is completely safe,” said Tarabbia. He also noted that, for many consumers, parking is not a beloved undertaking. “The trend is, first the need is there. And, secondly, that the technology we are able to provide for that need is affordable,” Tarabbia said.
Valeo’s automated parking system makes its production debut in 2016 via a European market passenger car application in which the driver must keep a finger on the smartphone during the maneuver, according to Tarabbia.
“It’s a way to respect the current regulations: the driver still has control of the car. The purpose is to park the car where you can see it through the whole process. Europe has very small parking spots, so this is a very, very convenient feature for this kind of a situation,” Tarabbia said.