How self-parking cars work 

Want to park perfectly every time? New technology has your back 

5 minutes

Parking not your strong suit? With new parking technology, you could become a pro after all. Cars mightn't be fully automated (yet), but parking systems are getting smarter, as technological advancement continues. 

  • Automated parking is bridging the gap between the present and the future 
  • The number of parking related accidents could be significantly reduced
  • Parking technology is getting smarter, cheaper and more accessible to everyone

Technology could make you a parking pro (if you're not already, of course) 

Depending on who you ask, fully autonomous cars are anywhere between two and ten years away and there are many technical, emotional and legal hurdles to overcome – such as how it will affect car insurance. However, in the run-up to having cars that drive themselves we can look forward to increasing levels of driver assistance for the more routine, annoying (or sometimes embarrassing) tasks.

Helping you cope with the squeeze

The average UK parking space is a cosy 4.8m by 2.4m (7.8ft by 15.7ft). The popularity - and size - of large SUVs, as well as family hatchbacks and saloons can make parking a bit of a squeeze.

Parking-related incidents account for more than 30 per cent of all accidents, with more than 675,000 parking collisions registered each year.

So roll on cars that can safely park themselves while you sit back and relax. The more advanced systems can even park the car while you watch from outside. They're ideal for helping to squeeze a large car into a small space, or parking tight against a wall or hedge.

How does it work?

The technology itself isn't new. First unveiled in 2006, it's evolved and become cheaper with each generation of cars. It's now an optional extra on most family hatchbacks.

The tech works by allowing you to select the manoeuvre you'd like the car to do - say a parallel park or reversing into a space. It uses 360 degree cameras and sensors to find a space. Once it's found one, you select reverse and it will turn the wheel and move into the spot like a pro, saving you the embarrassment from any onlookers, not to mention your lovely alloys from being kerbed.

What next?

Hate circling for a spot? In the future, this technology is likely to be able to help cars find their own spaces by scanning for empty bays. It would feed this data into a cloud, and use the sat nav to direct you to a space, saving you the hassle of driving around aimlessly searching for a park.

Further ahead, your future car could valet park itself, as if by magic. You'll get out at a drop off point and your car will drive off to find a parking space on its own. When you're ready to leave, you'll summon it back and it'll come get you.

From this point, it won't be a massive leap to take us to the next level and have fully autonomous vehicles.