Many newer vehicles such as Ford, Lincoln, Cadillac, and even the new Chevy Malibu have to option to be equipped with a self parking feature. This function allows your vehicle to take advantage of the cameras and sensors that the vehicle is equipped with and use them to find you a parking spot, whether you’re parallel parking on the side of the road or perpendicular parking in a parking lot.
The settings and procedures are a little different for each brand, but the basics of how to use this system are as follows:
- Press the Parking Assist button to activate the system. Some vehicles have a button with a letter P and a picture of a steering wheel, other systems have a button with a letter P and two rectangles, representing a space between two other vehicles.
- Follow the directions on screen. Once a space is found, you’ll hear a beeping sound and you’ll see instructions on the screen between your gauges on your dashboard. Typically the system will ask you to shift your vehicle into reverse, since your vehicle will almost always back into the space it has found.
- Once you’ve shifted into reverse, take your hands off the wheel. You control the speed of the parking process, but the wheel will turn on it’s own to angle you in the space the car has found for you.
- Continue following the on screen directions, shifting to drive and reverse as the system asks. Once the vehicle is where the parking system thinks it should be, you’ll hear another beep, letting you know the process is complete.
This process is honestly a little nerve wracking the first time you try it, but there are a few things to keep in mind when using this system to give you some piece of mind.
- You are in control, not the car. Yes the wheel will turn on it’s own, but if you grab the wheel at all, they system disengages and you’re driving as normal.
- You control the speed. Even though it’s steering for you, you are in control of how fast the car will move, if at all. If you believe you’re going too fast, or believe the system is wrong somehow, you have the ability to come to a stop and disengage the system at any point.
- You control the transmission. The parking assist system doesn’t have any control over whether the vehicle is in reverse, drive, or park. You maintain control over this vital functionality.
- If you’re interested in testing this feature out, find a parking lot that isn’t too busy and take your time practicing with it. Trying your vehicle’s self driving feature on a busy street when it absolutely, positively has to work can be stressful and unsafe. Give your self the best chance to be successful when the time comes.
The bottom line is this feature is incredibly handy when it comes to finding a place to park in almost any situation. As revolutionary as it is for the vehicle to steer itself, you have to choose to give that control to the vehicle, while still being actively involved in everything else. This of course is some of the first steps to self driving vehicles. The future is here, and it might be on your new vehicle right now.