The car that parks itself

If you're the type of person who gets cold sweats at the thought of reverse parking, then Lexus has the car for you. A snip at a mere AU$186k.

Look ma, no hands!

If you're the type of person who gets cold sweats at the thought of reverse parking, then Lexus has the car for you. A snip at a mere AU$186k.

At the Australian International Motor Show -- that's the Sydney Motor Show to you and me -- Lexus is demonstrating a car that can reverse park itself. This feature called Intelligent Park Assist, or IPA, is only available in Lexus's luxo-barge LS range: the AU$186,200 LS460 and the soon to be on sale LS600hL, which should retail for a cool AU$250,000.

Drive past a parking spot, stop and shift the car into a reverse and, if the space is large enough, the LS will ask you if you want the car to park itself. Select yes and all you have to do is modulate the car's speed via the brake pedal, while the Lexus's electronic brain takes control of the steering. It does this with the aid of its eyes and ears, namely its reversing camera and its bevy of ultrasonic sensors.


The Lexus sizes up a parking opportunity

If you're hoping the system will transform you into a reverse parking demi-god by squeezing you into a tight spot right outside your favourite restaurant, think again. According to Lexus, the car will only park itself if a parking spot is sufficiently large. At our demonstration during the Motor Show, the two other Lexus models that the LS parked between were spaced at least seven metres apart -- a pretty big spot even considering the LS600hL's 5.15m length.

Even though it's currently only available in Australia in cars that cost a fair percentage of a nice inner-city apartment, the system did debut overseas in Toyota's Prius hybrid. It could, say in a decade from now, find its way into everyday vehicles. Like the way that airbags and electric windows have worked their way down from Mercedes-Benz S-Classes to humble Holden Barinas.

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