Easy Parking with Cameras

8 min read
With the reality of autonomous cars just around the corner, the 360-degree camera feature in cars today offer a great first step to enhanced safety.

Car manufacturers today go the distance in making their vehicles not only easier to drive, but incredibly safer as well. As they race towards the objective of creating autonomous driving cars for the future, they’ve developed a wealth of technologies that help drivers negotiate the many travails of driving.

One major development in recent times is the onboard reverse camera. These days, more cars come with cameras that show you what your rear bumpers see viz-a-viz large, coloured monitors on your dashboard. Not only does this ease the trepidations raised when reversing, it can help prevent your car from getting dinks through carelessness, which can cost a pretty penny to fix.

Taking this one step further, the 360-degree cameras we see in select models from various brands is a godsend when it comes to negotiating tight parking spaces. If you’ve not had the privilege of driving a car equipped with this feature, it looks like someone sent a drone up above your vehicle to capture a bird’s eye view of it. Needless to say, being able to see all around your car when parking really helps you get into spaces, regardless how tight they may be!

But how is this done? No, it’s not magic, even if sometimes it feels that way! When you look in the monitor and see everything around your car, it’s as if you are having an out-of-body experience.

Most of these systems work by knitting together images from cameras situated around the vehicle. These cameras are often located in the front grille, under the door mirror, and at the rear bumper. Ultra-wide-angle lenses are fitted in these cameras to capture an entire side of the vehicle. Computer software is employed to merge the images to make it look like it’s filmed from several metres above the car. Naturally, not all cameras are of the same quality, and software discrepancies can make the ‘aerial’ view distorted. So, if this is a feature that you deem crucial, you may want to make sure that the car you are eyeing meets the mark.

The 360-degree camera is often activated when the car ignition is first turned on, or when the reverse gear is engaged. Occasionally, the front-facing camera also offers drivers a view of the front when travelling at low speeds, which is very useful when driving in tight ramps in some car parks.

If this useful feature is something you’d like in your next car, here are three that you can consider.

1. AUDI A7 SPORTBACK

The new A7 Sportback’s Gran Turismo style is one that strikes a chord with most Singaporeans. This is luxury with a touch of sporty panache. Car aficionados who didn’t quite like the previous A7’s slouch-back silhouette will be happy to see that Audi has perked up these lines.

The state-of-the-art 360-degree camera feature in the Audi is made even more irresistible with the car’s Full HD Resolution virtual cockpit, which includes two touchscreens with haptic and acoustic feedback.

There is no shortage of sensors in the A7. The driver assistance systems come with laser scanner, long-range radar, and four mid-range radars, front and 360-degree cameras, as well as ultrasonic sensors. All these help drivers choose from 39 driver assistance systems in three packages, including new ones from Audi such as the garage pilot and parking pilot, and the crossing assist.

The crux of all Audis is undeniably the driving experience and performance. Dynamic All-wheel Steering with variable ratio at the front axle, and rear wheels that steer independently are nice options if you can spare the extra change. So too are the sport suspension, suspension with adaptive damper control, and adaptive air suspensions with controlled dampers. Notably, park assist, reversing camera, 360-degree cameras with 3D images and rims view are part of the comprehensive suite of assistance system that is standard for Singapore.

The new mild-hybrid technology from Audi is one of the main highlights of the A7 Sportback. Fuel consumption is reduced by as much as 0.7 litres per 100km. A newly developed 48V primary electrical system in the 3.0 TFSI comprises a compact lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter (BAS) that is connected to the crankshaft.

Between 55 and 160km/h, the new Gran Turismo can coast with the engine off when the driver lifts his foot off the accelerator, going completely emissions-free for up to 40s. As soon as the driver steps on the accelerator again, the BAS quickly and smoothly restarts the engine. The 48V system enables a high recuperation power of up to 12kW, and allows start-stop operation from just 22km/h. The engine is started as soon as the vehicle ahead starts moving, even if the driver is still pressing the brake pedal.

With the A7 Sportback, Audi continues to add to the safety and pleasure of the driving experience, while taking away pressures on your wallet — thanks to its groundbreaking mild-hybrid technology.

AUDI A7 SPORTBACK 3.0 TFSI

PRICE  $370,500 (WITH COE)*
ENGINE  2,995CC V6 TFSI S TRONIC QUATTRO
TRANSMISSION  7-SPEED S TRONIC
POWER  340BHP @ 5,000–6,400RPM
TORQUE  500NM @ 1,370–4,500RPM
0–100KM/H  5.3S
FUEL CONSUMPTION   7.3L/100KM
COMBINED CO2EMISSIONS  165G/KM

2. NISSAN QASHQAI

There is every reason why the Qashqai is one of the most popular midsized SUVs in Singapore. Stylish looks, wealth of features, drivability, and value for money make this Nissan a good choice for anyone looking for a sporty vehicle that can take the whole family and the kitchen sink.

Being an SUV, the raised height of the driving position can pose a challenge when tackling tight parking spaces. But with Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor, the Qashqai handles this with ease, using the four cameras to give a virtual bird’s-eye view of the car’s surroundings. You can even select split-scene close-ups of the front, rear and curb to obtain a better look. This feature offers an extra pair of ‘eyes’ that makes parking and manoeuvring so much easier.

The Qashqai is extremely ergonomic, helped on by Nissan’s Advanced Drive-Assist Display. By purely toggling the optimally placed buttons on the steering wheel, you can change what’s on display right in front of you, from tyre pressure monitoring and steering mode to parking display sensors and even intelligent driver alertness monitoring.

The car also possesses a long list of safety features to help you reach your destination in one piece. Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking (which provides visual and audible alerts when the car senses a risk of collision), Blind Spot Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are all part and parcel of Nissan’s Safety Shield concept — a proactive approach to safety based on the idea that cars should be designed to protect people.

In addition to these features, the Qashqai also boasts Electronic Brake Force Distribution, which optimises braking control based on the load carried, and Vehicle Dynamic Control, which prevents the car from sliding sideways on slippery roads; these two features make this SUV one of the safest on the roads.

NISSAN QASHQAI 2.0 PREMIUM

PRICE  $126,800 (WITH COE)*
ENGINE  1,997CC DOHC, FOUR-CYLINDER, 16-VALVE
TRANSMISSION  XTRONIC CVT WITH 7-SPEED MANUAL MODE
POWER  144PS @ 6,000RPM
TORQUE  200NM @ 4,400RPM
0–100KM/H  UNAVAILABLE
FUEL CONSUMPTION  6.9L/100KM
COMBINED CO2EMISSIONS  159G/KM

3. HONDA ODYSSEY

Honda’s premium MPV has made industry-leading technology part of its DNA; with each rendition, drivers enjoy greater ease in driving, comfort and safety. The Odyssey has boasted 360-degree cameras for several years now, with the feature available in the EXV and EXV Navi-Res models. The new version continues to make handling this sizable vehicle ever easier.

The premium MPV has a suite of parking assistance features. The Honda Smart Parking Assist System is able to analyse images taken by the car’s cameras, calculate the parking space boundary, and provide steering input to support the driving when getting into these spots. This is when the multi-view function proves its worth, offering a composite view of the car’s surroundings through multiple wide-angle views provided by the cameras and displayed on the Odyssey’s navigation screen.

The car also offers a host of other safety features, including Blind Spot Information (it beeps if there’s an approaching vehicle), Cross Traffic Monitor (warns of approaching vehicles when reversing), and Vehicle Stability Assist (selectively applies brakes, and regulates engine’s output to maintain traction on slippery roads). Throw in the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation, and you have arguably one of the safest people movers on Singapore’s roads.

Safety doesn’t have to exist without creature comforts. In the Odyssey, all seven seats are luxuriously crafted, with the middle two offering retractable lower leg support. As an added option (standard in some models), the nine-inch rear monitor provides passengers with onboard entertainment on long drives.

Featuring Honda’s new Earth Dreams 2.4-litre DOHC i-VTEC engine, the Odyssey offers drivers a smooth ride with enough power to tackle anything on the roads. Furthermore, it comes with breakthrough technology that improves thermal efficiency and minimises friction so that you can enjoy an Odyssey that boasts greater fuel efficiency and improved emissions.

HONDA ODYSSEY

PRICE  $145,999 (WITH COE)*
ENGINE  2,356CC DOHC, INLINE FOUR-CYLINDER, WATER COOLED, DOHC I-VTEC
TRANSMISSION  EARTH DREAMS CVT
POWER  175 PS @ 6,200RPM
TORQUE  225NM @ 4,000RPM
0–100KM/H  11.2S
FUEL CONSUMPTION  8.1L/100KM
COMBINED CO2EMISSIONS  184G/KM

*Information is accurate as at time of publishing