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Tech: park (easy) life. Get out, and let the Mercedes do the work

Published: 05 September 2016

► The lowdown on Mercedes’ Remote Parking Pilot
► Designed to allow easier parking in tighter spaces
► Automated bay parking and parallel parking permitted

For over a decade parking halfwits have been able to rely on electronics to help wriggle their cars into tricky spaces. But those Mensa-grade ECUs haven’t solved the problem of how to get our corpulent selves out of our increasingly corpulent cars once we’ve wedged one in that narrow bay. BMW has already revealed the 7-series’ ability to slot into your garage while you stand outside thumbing the keyfob to make it happen, but Merc’s Remote Parking Pilot in the new E-class works in regular car parks, too. Here’s how:

Find a space

As on existing parking assist systems, you have to drive past an available space before the tech can do its stuff. The car scans the space available and if it gives you the okay, you can jump out and prepare to get all mobile. The smartphone app works over Bluetooth on both Android and Apple phones, and you can select whether you’d prefer the car to park nose- or tail-in to a perpendicular space. It works with parallel spaces too. Unsurprisingly, your E-class needs to have Keyless Go, an auto ‘box and Parking Pilot to unlock self-parking capability. 

Crank up the Smartphone

Jump out, activate the app, then circle the virtual wheel, as on an early iPod. You’re not controlling the speed or steering of the car, only the progress of the manoeuvre. Stop twirling and car will stop. Parking sensors check for obstacles and the process will stop if they detect an obstruction, say a trolley at the back of a space. And it only works if you remain within a 3m radius of the car. That’s sufficient to keep your family safe from traffic, says Mercedes, but close enough to the car to keep global legislators happy.

Reversing blind?

Prefer to un-park the old fashioned way? Smart sensors can see below the bumpers of neighbouring behemoths and will apply the brakes if you’re about to T-bone another car.

Un-parking

When you return to your car, start it remotely and activate the app to retrieve it from the bay, using the same scroll wheel to provide a ‘gesture’ to let the car (and Merc’s lawyers) know that you’re still notionally in control. Mercedes’ engineers concede that a competent driver faced with a simple parking manoeuvre would be quicker against the clock, but that an average one with an impatient queue of other drivers behind him ready to hurl abuse would give best to the automated system.

Garage parking

Domestic garages aren’t as straightforward to read as shopping centre bays for cars, but like the system on BMW’s new 7-series, Remote Parking Pilot can handle them. The E-class’s Explore mode allows you to remotely drive the car 10m backwards or forwards, while automatically avoiding abandoned bikes and that load of cardboard you’ve been meaning to take to the tip for the past six months. Handy if your house is a British shoe-box new-build with a garage skinnier than a supermodel’s waist.

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By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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