Toyota and Lexus are both rolling out cars that can parallel park themselves automatically. My guess is that the target
demographic would be 16-year-olds about to take their driver's test.
The Toyota feature is called the Intelligent Parking Assist system: The driver pushes a few buttons on a dashboard computer
screen that confirms a visual image as to where he or she wants to park. The driver keeps one foot on the brake pedal for an
occasional tap, and the car steers itself into place.
Personally, I have no need for such technology. Friends and family constantly express amazement at my parallel parking
They say things like, "Amazing! And after only 25 tries!"
Last week I parallel parked Downtown and my passenger said, "Amazing! I've never seen anyone able to scrape tires on a
curb like that without so much as flinching."
As you can tell, I have this parallel parking thing down pat.
My real dream is to one day be able to parallel park a car like they do in the movies.
Barrel down the street at 80 mph, slam
on the brakes, do a screaming hairpin U-turn, and swing the car perfectly into place. Of course, that is a distant dream, so now
I will settle for getting the car between two other cars and not being so close to the curb that I have to roll down the window
and pull myself out by grabbing the parking meter.
When our kids learned how to parallel park, the driver education instructor tested their skill by having them maneuver between
orange plastic cones. The kids often said this was the most stressful part of the class.
"You kids today have it so easy," I told them. "When we took the test, they didn't have plastic cones, so they used real
people. If you tapped one of them, you not only failed the test, you had to pay their medical bills and take their place as a
This new sensor technology of confirming a visual image on a computer and then punching a few buttons to create a reality is
In addition to being able to call up an image of a car parallel parking, I'd also like to be able to call up an image of a clean car.
This, in turn, would activate an automatic water system to suds and spray the outside of the vehicle, while a central vacuum
system crawls out of breakaway door panels and suctions up mud, dirt and dead leaves scattered about the floor.
I'd also like a sensor system that could give me a calorie and fat gram count on the fast-food meal I was about to order at the
drive-through. Of further benefit would be the system triggering a sizable electrical jolt beneath the seat after I saw the calorie
and fat count and ordered the meal anyway.
But perhaps the sensor technology could best be used to deter motorists who insist on nuzzling three inches from your rear
bumper. The sensor would detect the tailgater and then trigger a reader board in your back window that would flash the
message of your choice. "Police are on the way," or "Oil slick ahead!"
Despite the many possibilities, I am hoping the sensor technology turns out to be nothing more than a flickering flare on the side
of the road. It breaks my heart to think of all those young people being deprived the joy of parallel parking.