German automotive supplier Hella has introduced a new ultrasonic, automated parallel parking system designed to eliminate the frustration and anxiety that most drivers experience when faced with the need to parallel park between two vehicles. Developed by Hella during the past year, the system requires only one ultrasonic "smart" sensor per vehicle side integrated with the vehicle's central computer unit and the vehicle's antilock brake (ABS) and electrical power steering (EPS) systems. When activated by the driver, the ultrasonic sensor measures parking spaces as the vehicle passes them. If the space is big enough, the system will send an audio or visual signal to the driver. Hella's electronic parking assistance system calculates the optimum path the vehicle needs to take to parallel park, even taking into account curb heights. The system also uses wheel speed and steering angle data supplied by the wheel speed sensors. The driver is still in full control of the vehicle while the parallel parking maneuver is taking place and can override the system at any time by moving the steering wheel, company officials say. The best location for the ultrasonic sensor usually is a vehicle's A- pillar, integrated with the exterior trim so it is hardly noticeable. The unit also is less expensive than camera-based systems currently in use.
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