Bosch is a company of technological vision, and its latest is to develop a fully automatic parallel parking system using ultrasound. The company’s specialists believe that ultrasound offers very significant potential, notably for the further implementation of more sophisticated parking aids beyond the current systems.
“These include expanded convenience functions such as the ‘assistant’ for parking at right angles, a warning system for side collisions, as well as an assistant for driving out of parking spaces and a fully automatic parking function,” said Dr. Rainer Kallenbach, Executive Vice-President Sales of the Bosch Automotive Electronics division. Speaking on the eve of the Frankfurt Motor Show, he added that Bosch is focusing on creating “sensory organs” for cars to allow all this to happen, making driving less stressful but also improving occupant and pedestrian safety.
The technology makes better use of limited city parking space. “Since it speeds up the process of parking and driving out of parking spaces, it also helps to keep traffic flowing and reduces the amount of damage caused during parking maneuvers,” he added.
Today’s semi-automatic parking assistant is already state-of-the-art, operating electric power steering and carrying out steering maneuvers although the driver needs to support the system by retaining control of the accelerator and brakes. Electric steering support is required for park steering control of any kind, while Bosch's Park Steering Information, which provides the driver with information on the optimum parking maneuver, is an alternative technology for vehicles with hydraulic power steering, said Kallenbach.
But there is more in prospect. Bosch plans to supply an additional function to assist in driving out of parking spaces. It has been designed to help drivers get into the right starting position and then carry out the steering maneuvers required to pull out of a parking space safely.
This would allow the driver to concentrate on the traffic situation and simply operate the accelerator to exit the parking space. The assistant system would cancel if the driver took control of the steering or braked.
Kallenbach added that Bosch’s engineers have developed long-range ultrasound sensors to create the conditions for new parking assistance functions. Already in use for parallel parking, in the future they will also assist parking at a right angle. A longer sensor range is required to measure the depth of parking spaces. Fully automatic parking has long been on the wish list of OEMs, and now it is very much nearer.
Another ultrasound application is what Bosch calls Side Distance Warning, which, like its advanced parking systems, is also being developed for series production.
The system is to protect the sides of the car, providing collision warnings of objects that the driver may not see and that can result in costly bodywork damage.
It is 20 years since Bosch started to develop ultrasound sensors to monitor parking spaces in front of, and behind, cars. In 1993, Ford of Europe offered the first Bosch system on the Scorpio. The following year, the second-generation Bosch system was available and fitted to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Three years after that, General Motors was the first U.S. OEM to order Bosch ultrasound sensor technology.
Initially, the Bosch parking system had just provided driver information; the first parking assistant worldwide came in 2006. The Citroën C4 Picasso was the first to be equipped with it, measuring the length of parking spaces. Park Steering Control, the first Bosch semi-automatic parking assistant for vehicles with electric power steering, was launched in 2008 in Mercedes-Benz A- and B-Class models. This year, the Parking Steering Information function debuted in the Opel Insignia.
Since production started in 1993, Bosch has produced more than 100 million ultrasound sensors. Fourteen OEMs now offer the company’s parking technology for some 200 vehicle models, from compacts to premium models.