Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Toyota to release self-parking car

Sixteen-year-olds worldwide can breathe easier. The

parallel-parking portion of the driver’s test may no longer plague

the thousands of teens vying for a license every year once Toyota


releases its updated version of the Prius, now available with a

self-parking feature.

The Prius, derived from the Latin word meaning “to go before,”

was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid, a car that fuels itself

alternately from gasoline and electric battery. The latest version,

currently available only in Japan, is the first step in the growing

trend toward self-automated cars.

Using the car’s inner computer and a rear-mounted camera, the

Prius can park itself without the driver ever needing to touch the

steering wheel.

Toyota released the car for sale last Monday in Japan, and

although it is not currently available in the United States, Toyota

plans to sell around 35,000 Pruises in the United States within the

next year.

The car is currently available in Japan for 2.15 million yen

($18,430) with an additional 230,000 yen for the self-park feature,

which includes a DVD navigation system.

The new technology is the first of its kind worldwide, and

although Toyota assures consumers the self-park feature would

prevent drivers from hitting other cars, there is still some

concern over the liability.

UW mechanical engineering professor John Moskwa said a

self-parking car would have difficulty passing through legal

loopholes in the United States.

“The legal system is very different in Japan than in the United

States,” Moskwa said. “Lawyers are much more active over here, so

maybe it’s a good idea that they’re testing out this new technology

in Japan.”

Internet chat rooms and bulletin boards are abuzz with users

excited by the prospect of a self-parking car. But questions

surround liability issues of a mechanical parking mechanism hitting

other parked cars.

Derek Hudson, a salesman at Jon Lancaster Toyota in Madison,

said the new advancement is a good one but still places the

majority of the responsibility on the driver rather than the


“It’s more the person operating the car than the car itself that

should be blamed, but it sounds like a good new technology,” Hudson


Automotive companies have worked for years to develop technology

to ultimately allow drivers to sit in a car while the car drives

itself, but Moskwa said it could be many years before anything of

that sort is actually available.

Moskwa said he is aware of the progression toward autonomous

cars but said there are not clear goals as to why exactly this

technology should be made available. Would drivers who love to

drive because of the feel of the open road want to have their

automobiles steer themselves?

Toyota and Honda Motor Co. are currently the only two automakers

to sell hybrid vehicles, and although Honda’s model does not have a

self-park feature, if current trends are any predication, it might

not be long before it develops one as well.

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