2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited: Park-Like-a-Jerk Assist
July 20, 2015
Autonomous cars continue to be a hot topic in transportation today. Silicon Valley tech giants and auto makers have whetted our appetites with small tastes of technologies they've cooked up, from Google's cartoonish interpretation of personal people movers to Bobby, a racetrack-devouring Audi RS7.
On a larger scale, many consumers have already experienced small degrees of autonomous vehicle features, most commonly in parking systems like the one in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited.
These systems have been commercially available in the U.S. since 2006, appearing first in the Lexus LS sedan. With 9 years of development between now and those first-gen systems, I was curious to know how far they've come.
Our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited's ParkSense allows you to select between parallel and perpendicular parking modes, and requires positioning the vehicle a specific way to initiate the parking sequence for each scenario.
To begin the parking sequence, you first press a dash-mounted button that primes the system to begin scanning for a space. Since I was using our parking garage as a testbed, I selected perpendicular mode and proceeded to slowly drive past an open spot as directed.
The system continues to let me drive past the spot, as if to say "nah, I'm sure you'll find one closer to the elevators." I back up and retry the same space. Nope. I back up and crab away from the space and retry.
BINGO. The system realizes that indeed I want to park in that empty spot I've now driven past twice. Except now there's another car behind me, and I'm forced to abort the sequence.
I peel off to a parking lane with less traffic and dive right back into the parking sequence, better educated and with diminishing patience. A couple more quick position adjustments and I've got target-lock on a prime space next to a Toyota Prius. Autonomous parking victory will be mine, and it only took 12 minutes!
Behold, the fruits of these efforts.
Versus the old-school manual way (total time: 10 seconds)
To me, these systems are really only relevant for drivers with skills in the 20th percentile and worse. And even if these vehicles could execute perfect parking maneuvers on every attempt, the time spent to initiate these systems is always more than it would take an average driver to take a few stabs at old-school manual parking.
So until cars like Bobby are driving me to and from the office, I'm keeping autonomy out of my morning parking routine.
Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor @ 17,733 miles