BMW Makes Parking Easier but Slower, and Here's How It Works

BMW Automatic maneuver assistant 12 photos
Photo: YouTube / BMW
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Over the past few years, we have become accustomed to driver aids like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, etc. Autonomous vehicles are also getting more and more traction. But we’re still a few years away until they are allowed to completely take over and drive us around while we’re watching movies or engaging in conversation.
However, that still leaves a lot of room for cars to take away some of the tasks, such as parking, which quite a few people struggle with and find a chore. Now, that’s not to say people don’t know how to park. Even if you’re an expert, parking in the same crowded office garage every day can become annoying.

That is why BMW is giving people a rather nice feature in their new cars. Although, needless to say, it is an option. But it is one that seems to be worth the money. It allows the car to memorize a specific parking routine and consistently recreate it every time you have to do it.

That still means you will have to do it at least once, but after that, the car will do it for you. Keep in mind the vehicle can only memorize ten maneuvers with a combined distance of up to 600 (1,968 feet) meters. There is also a 200-meter (656 feet) restriction for any individual recording.

To create such a recording, the procedure is simple and easy. Once you’ve reached the desired spot, you simply press the parking button on the center console, which makes a menu pop up on the infotainment screen. From there, you select the 'Record new path' option and start driving at a speed below 20 kph (12 mph).

During the parking maneuver, the system will use every sensor and camera available to memorize the path taken. Once parked, you just click to save the recording and name it, which helps differentiate between the ten maneuvers the car can store.

Another cool part of this new feature is that the car will be able to recognize when you reach the same location and automatically prompt you to begin the parking sequence. It will even be able to deviate from its memorized course by up to 30 centimeters (1 foot) to avoid obstacles.

However, there are a couple of limitations. If an obstacle blocks the car’s path, the system will stop the sequence. So you will either have to remove the obstacle or perform the maneuver yourself.

Another issue is the speed at which the car is able to park itself, which is a painfully slow 4 kph (2.5 mph). Still, it beats having to perform the same parking procedure every day. While this might sound like a gimmick, considering we’ve seen self-parking features before, you have to look for a spot, wait for the car to detect it, then park. This feature addresses the specific issue of parking in a designated spot every day (for example at work).

The last caveat of this system is that it is not fully autonomous. Despite the fact that the car can perform the sequence completely unaided, BMW clearly states that it will not relieve the driver of personal responsibility.

What that means is that the system might fail to respond appropriately in all traffic situations. This is not as important if you find yourself in a parking lot, but it can pose a risk of an accident if you try to park on the side of the road.

Even so, BMW advises you are ready to take control of the vehicle regardless of where you park. But these are small issues for a system that can make one’s life so much easier. Keep in mind, most cars with a smart parking assistant can self-park, just without memorizing a routine.

For those who like gizmos and gadgets and are interested in this option, BMW calls it the 'Automatic maneuver assistant.' It is included in the 'Parking assistant professional' optional equipment and for those who can afford it, it seems like a solid option to take into consideration.

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About the author: Bogdan Bebeselea
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As a kid, Bogdan grew up handing his dad the tools needed to work on his old Citroen and asking one too many questions about everything happening inside the engine bay. Naturally, this upbringing led Bogdan to become an engineer, but thanks to Top Gear, The Fast and the Furious series, and racing video games, a passion for automotive entertainment was ignited.
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