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Automatic Parking: New Advances from Chrysler

By Lynn Walford, September 17th, 2016

Parking is getting easier than ever thanks to advanced automatic parking features. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles launched parking features just a few years ago and is adding new features.

Manufacturer photo: With FCA's Parallel/Perpendicular ParkSense, the driver engages the function and the sensors look for parking
Manufacturer photo: With FCA's Parallel/Perpendicular ParkSense, the driver engages the function and the sensors look for parking

"Since its release Parallel/Perpendicular ParkSense has been a success. It's one of those 'surprise and delight' features where drivers are surprised when they have the feature and are totally delighted when they see how it works," said Adam Chiapetta, senior manager of driver assistance at FCA. ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist and ParkSense rear park assist with stop are available on select Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Fiat models.

Chiapetta says that drivers who are used to parking all the time won't see a big difference using Parallel ParkSense. However, if drivers are not used to parking, it can save time and reduce stress. The technology allows the car to fit into a smaller space, and Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist is especially helpful with larger cars and cars when the driver can't see well.

FCA has been promoting its advanced parking features with comedian Jim Gaffigan. ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist uses ultrasonic sensors on the bumper that find and guide driver into a parking space. The driver engages the feature and must first drive past the space in order for the sensors to measure the space and make sure there is enough room, says Chiapetta.

The guidance system automatically controls the steering angle while the driver controls gear position, brake, and accelerator. The system makes parallel parking possible on either side of the car.

Manufacturer photo: With FCA's Parallel/Perpendicular ParkSense, the driver engages the function and the sensors look for parking

Perpendicular parking works using the same technology. The driver engages the function and the sensors look for parking. After driving past the space and measuring it, the vehicle self-steers itself, backing into the space while the driver controls the gas and brake pedals.

The Chrysler Pacifica commercial warns drivers in small print "An electronic aid is not a substitute for conscientious driving. Always be aware of your surroundings."

The recently released 2017 Chrysler Pacifica features thee ParkSense rear park assist system with stop and release. In reverse, at low speeds, ultrasonic sensors detect stationary objects; if an imminent collision is detected, then the system can sound an auditory alarm. If no action is taken, then the system will provide momentary, autonomous brake pulse; below 4.4 mph, the system will bring the vehicle to a stop before releasing. Therefore, drivers are less likely to hit the vehicle, trash cans, or whatever is behind them.

To illustrate these kinds of parking help, Chrysler launched a new digital and online "Street Smarts" campaign, which puts a competitive focus on the features and benefits of the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Jim Gaffigan introduces Front and Rear Park Assistance with stop. In the video, the neighbor's minivan backs over garbage cans in the driveway, and a little girl asks her father, "Why does Mr. Larry use Grandpa words?"

The father replies, "His poor minivan lacks ParkSense front and rear park assist system with stop."

"Drivers using the automatic parking features should still check the parking spot," warns Chiapetta. The sensors for parking and automatic braking are programmed to only sense things that are 8 inches high because cars often park over a curb, which can be as high as 8 inches. It is possible that a rock or another small object such as broken glass could be in the parking spot and may not be detected by the system.

Since shoppers often buy cars according to features, Chiapetta advises that you ask about the parking features of the car you are test-driving. He also suggests that you ask the dealer to demonstrate the parking features or allow you test them.

If you have already purchased a vehicle with advanced parking features, you can contact the dealer for a demonstration, watch videos, or check the manual.

He also suggests looking for another driver assistance feature that is helpful for parking, sometimes called Rear Cross Traffic Alert, or in the case with FCA vehicles, called Rear Cross Path detection. In parking-lot situations RCP warns drivers of lateral traffic when backing out of parking spaces. It automatically activates any time a vehicle is in reverse gear. The driver is alerted of approaching vehicle(s) via illuminated icons on side-view mirrors and a driver-selected audible chime.

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