The Toyota Tundra was originally a mid-size pickup marketed to full-size buyers. What interesting and amazing technology we have these days!
The most obvious vehicle size increase has been in the pickup truck segment, where “small” trucks like the Dodge Dakota now look like giants beside their early predecessors. Drivers must still do their best to ensure that there is no one behind or in front of their vehicle when parking. But how does it work?
Basically, a set of eyes are mounted in the vehicle’s bumpers. This is exactly the same principle employed by submarines using active sonar underwater, except that water transmits the sound waves much better than air, allowing for better range. This means that small children, animals, or all-terrain vehicles might not generate a warning beep – or at least not a consistent warning beep.
Full-size trucks have also been expanding, becoming heavier, wider and taller.Vehicles of virtually every type and make have been steadily growing over the past ten years. This is very useful with parallel parking – you just have to let the car control the steering, gas and brake. Toyota too has participated in this growth trend. “Entry level” cars by companies like BMW are almost the same size nowadays as a deer fence mid-size car from a decade ago. Beeping frequency and onset vary between different systems. Since the speed of sound is fairly constant through air, a computer uses the time it took for the reflection to be returned in order to calculate the distance between the bumper and the object. As a solution to these new parking woes, vehicle designers have developed a new tool for drivers called “parking assist. The result is more accurate input to the vehicle, which instead of merely warning drivers close to an object, will actually steer and park the vehicle for them. When driving a new Toyota Tundra, you may notice it’s difficult to tell where the truck begins and ends.
High-end luxury cars have started to move on to the next generation of parking assist systems, which use a video camera and complex computer program alongside the sound sensor system.”
“Parking assist” is, on most vehicles, a system of sensors mounted on one or both sets of bumpers which beeps as the vehicle approaches an object. The parking assist is a great tool for parallel parking, and can also serve as a warning if a small object such as a fence post or child is near your vehicle. So, while parking assist – aka parking sonar – is definitely a useful tool, it is not a replacement for caution. The beeps usually begin from about 6 feet away from an obstacle, and increase in frequency as you approach, becoming a continuous tone at about 6 inches from the obstacle.
The downside of bigger vehicles is that parking is now a lot harder than it was before. These “eyes”, or special sensors, transmit highly focused sound waves at regular intervals from the bumper. Toyota realized a larger vehicle could fit more customers, and as a result, the 2007 Tundra was much bigger than earlier models in almost every dimension.
While the system is effective when dealing with stationary objects like parked vehicles, posts and garage doors, the sensors are not quite sensitive enough to pick up smaller objects moving past the sensors. One of the consequences of vehicle sizes expanding is that parking now is harder than ever. When these sound waves come into contact with a solid object, they reflect back towards the sensor.