Human or in-human design?

The new Lexus LS practically parallel parks itself. Is this a human oriented design, or is this an in-human design? IMO it further separates the user from the participation of an experience. Of course, you can say that the “experience” here is the convenience from driving a Lexus, but what does this mean in the bigger picture? At least from a personal point of view, I won’t find it “ethical” to include such a feature in cars. It will be great for drivers with disabilities, but not on a flagship car. I mean, if Lexus really wants to provide luxury, why not just send a chauffer, or provide a “Lexus Executive 24/7 Parking Service”? Won’t that make it even more prestigious?

What is the role of a product in our lives? I feel like the world is coming to an end soon… actually, not the world, but humanity. Roaches will live on just fine as how they always been.

LEXUS LS info:

From the link, it seems as complicated to tell the computer which spot you want to park in as it is to parallel park! However, I don’t think these options are a bad thing. I think you might be the first person to suggest that parallel parking is an experience that anyone would want to have. Personally, I would love to avoid it.

Technology, especially in cars, is a good thing. Yes, sometimes the experience of struggling with under-developed technology is fun (sliding a RWD car, parallel parking, locking up brakes, being banged around by stiff suspension), but on the whole, humanity has benefited from ridding the modern automobile of such rough corners.

I simply don’t think making a car park itself is a solution. If it is parallel parking that bothers people, then why not come out with a urban plan that gets rid of the need to parallel park altogether? Furthermore, this feature itself exaggerates the negative impression of parallel parking.

Parallel parking is a skill required in driving tests in many countries. Hell, I had to learn and pass a standard test of forward and reverse in a S-shaped lane without the bumper hitting any cone.

This is not some power-slide or heel-and-toe technique that take a great deal to learn. I just cannot accept the fact that people will be willing to pay at least $6000 for this feature just to “avoid” having to parallel park instead of spending a few hours to learn to do it right.

Now, I agree that “Auto Parallel Parking” is a silly feature, but who are we to make general decisions about what society needs? If fact, aren’t we here to create products that people desire based on fufilling their needs? We live in a capitalist society - if the market allows a feature like “Auto Parallel Parking” to create a successful product then, as designers we should respect that.

On another note - lets get realistic here. It is impossible to “Re-design” a city that requires parallel parking to be free of the need to parallel park altogether…this is a band-aid solution for a silly problem. People will come in to the Lexus dealership and say “oooo” “Ahhhhh” what a great feature, and then they will probably never use it…but they are going to have the emotional satisfaction in their purchase knowing that their vehicle is the most “advanced” parallel parking machine on the road.

This is how most products are sold…people tend to buy products with features that they will never use…when was the last time you added an appointment to your cell phone calendar or pre-programmed your VCR to record a program two weeks in advance? This is a same idea…a little more extreme, but the same idea.

people with ‘needs’ will benifit from this. I think it is dumb otherwise. Backup sensors are a good thing and the camera is good, and maybe even the sonar to tell you that you are too close to the cars to cut it in, also good. But I had to paralell park everyday in high school. I would rock a conversion van some days too!

If you’ve ever spent any time in San Francisco you might be aware of another interesting parking situation; Perpendicular Parking. Some streets (Broderick, Baker, Lyon) are so steep that parallel parking is virtually impossible (think manual transmission) and “angle” parking uphill invites run-aways, so the parking is at a right angle to the street. Not as easy to accomplish as it may sound.

people with ‘needs’ will benifit from this. I think it is dumb otherwise.

I don’t have much sympathy for those who can’t “drive”; “drive” being defined as all the personal skills necessary to pilot a motor vehicle on public streets. (Invoke worn adage: Driving is a Privilege, not a Right). But I do agree, “people with needs” may benefit from this. On the other hand, I have to ask myself, “If one can not efficiently operate a motor vehicle on public streets, should they even be operating on public streets?”

Part of every state’s CDL (Commercial Drivers License) practical “Skills” exam requires the driver to parallel park a trailer against the right-hand curb, using only the side mirrors. Some states require the driver to back the combination through a serpentine course, using only the side mirrors, without touching the orange lane delineators. In addition to “endorsements” required to operate tankers, multiple trailers, vehicles equipped with air brakes, vehicles transporting hazardous materials, and passenger vehicles, the driver must have been tested operating a tractor with a manual transmission. If s/he can only operate an automatic transmission equipped truck, then s/he is prohibited from operating anything but an automatic. If the driver can not perform any portion of the “Skills” test, s/he fails the entire test.

The point I’m trying to make is that driving anything requires knowledge and skill; be it a Lexus LS, or a Peterbilt.

I hold a CDL and hereby extend my preemptive apologies to the unskilled … If you can’t meet the standards required, then perhaps you shouldn’t be out of the road with the rest of us.

LMO I agree with you on many points you maid. I would also like to say that I have never seen perpendicular parking on a street, just in parking lots witch is different I’m sure. Can you back in to the purpendicular parking?
In Illinois when I got my licence several years ago I was not tested on parrallel parking at all, but was on up hill and down hill parking. We have lots of parrallel parking situations and no hills at all, so…

We have lots of parrallel parking situations and no hills at all, so…

I reckon not. Any county that has a village in it called “Flatville” probably does’nt have any hills. At sixteen feet above the mean county elevation, Gifford is the highest point in the county … I worked in Rantoul for a few years.

You can’t see the incline on this GoogleEarth image, but it’s every bit of 2:1 (2 horizontal, 1 vertical). Parking is only on one side of the street. Most of us are used to right angle parking on a flat parking lot; the weird part is throttle control when approaching from down hill. Backing into a space is prohibited (not to mention incredibly difficult).

Funny how one thought leads to another.

When I was a kid my dad had a '58 Oldmobile with an automatic headlight dimmer system on it. It was called the “Autronic Eye.” I used to pretend that the sensor was a periscope.

My dad ordered that car from the factory but soon became really annoyed by the device. Whenever we’d go under a street light, or by other bright light sources (including, but not limited to, oncoming headlights) the headlights used to flicker back and forth from high, to low beam.

Makes me wonder if the Lexus LS will ever try to park itself when passing an empty space …

yeah the auto light dimmer is cool, I doubt that it will try parking through. Did you work for Vetter (like the windjammer on motorcycles) or the USAF? If you don’t mind me asking. I’ve met Craig before and the base is closed.

Most of these cars will be driven by people who are looking for the convenience. Fact is, in most jurisdictions, drivers must pass a road examination to qualify for a licence and it makes no sense for student drivers to have this feature since the skill will be tested by the examiner.


Is a car a necessary evil, a method to achieve your goal of arriving at a distant destination on time and in comfort?

Or is a car a destination unto itself, a method to achieve your goal of entertainment?

I don’t think parallel parking achieves either of those two goals.

Or is a car a destination unto itself, a method to achieve your goal of entertainment?

If Ford’s SYN-us is any indication, yes, the car is the destination…

What rear window? (it’s a flat screen rearview/entertaiment center)

Don’t you think you’re getting a tad carried away on the experience design kick? Washing my clothes by hand is an experience too, but one that I’m well happy to let my washing machine take care of. The point of designing for experiences is that people should want to take part, not be forced into something they don’t enjoy. Not everyone is as tuned into the value of product experiences as we are, nor does everyone enjoy driving as much as transportation designers.

This reminds me a bit of what the reaction must have been like when Automatic Transmission was introduced. If you enjoy the experience of parallel parking, or the experience of driving in general, you’re free to continue to do so - nobody is forcing these technologies on you.

I don’t understand by any means how you could find this unethical. It’s just a service solution for something many people don’t enjoy and unfortunately are often quite bad at. I can’t believe how often I see people around LA hit the car in front or behind them - or both - when trying to park. If there are any moral dilemmas stemming from cars, this solution should be very low on the list (Hemi engines come to mind).

…and isn’t there value in that alone? Especially in North America where the public transportation system is so poor, universal design solutions such as these should be applauded. While I agree that driving is a privilege, I struggle with that on such a black & white level in cities with little public transportation infrastructure. Mobility is a right.

Why not? Considering Lexus was the first to introduce a Hybrid SUV, and the vision they were promoting in Minority Report, this kind of technology leadership fits their brand promise quite well.

The challenges present in an urban plan change en masse are not insignificant, if not entirely impractical. New parking solutions like 45degree angled parking are great. However, simple changes like that take years, a lot of resources to implement, and more physical space. Additionally, the user has no control over infrastructure changes, so for the individual who does not like to parallel park they are better with a solution they personally can buy.

Again, this is not practical. We’re talking about a Lexus here, not a Maybach.

Parallel parking is not driving. While I know there are a lot of people on the road that maybe shouldn’t be, you can’t assume that just because someone can’t (or doesn’t like to) parallel park that they aren’t a safe driver. If you have a problem with the testing standards in North America that’s another issue, but if they can afford a Lexus they likely have a state issued license. And again, in N.A. society provides an unfortunate few public transportation alternatives.

Yes, the Lexus solution is a bit crude and complicated, but it’s a first generation technology. These things tend to get better.

Why is there this hesitancy towards automation guys? I’ve seen so many automateddriving concepts the last several years which I thought to be steps in the rightdirection. Anyway relax, it’s mostly a showy tech gimmick and you’re not likely to see it too often (for now at least). Consumers will ultimately decide whether or not the technology succeeds.

How about wheels on luggage–is that “unethical” to the experience of carrying bags?

I personally think this is a huge innovation, and a case-study for the benefits of user centered design.

The ironic thing about that Ford SYN-us concept is that although it is a destination unto itself, I couln’t imagine a car more likely to have an automatic parallel park function. That’s because it’s destination isn’t the driving experience, but the entertainment of being in the car. A BMW M series (or any other “performance” vehicle) would make a better example.

wow… i mean wow?

The auto industry condemned it and said it was unreliable. The original magnet type autos that is. Then after john z. Delorian dreamt up an auto for Packard the perception changed. I still think they are unsafe, (j/k).

Have any of you seen the back seat of this guy? It is very nice, and it looks like Lexus is going for a Maybach level of luxury. Reclining rear seats and a cool center council and stuff like that.


Parallel parking is not driving. While I know there are a lot of people on the road that maybe shouldn’t be, you can’t assume that just because someone can’t (or doesn’t like to) parallel park that they aren’t a safe driver.

With all due respect I must disagree with you.

Parking is most certainly “driving”. Operating a motor vehicle is all about spacial relationships; knowing where you are (“you” being the envelope of your vehicle) with regard to other vehicles, people, structures, etc., surrounding you.

Given the near zero-velocity of parking maneuvers, I would argue that a driver, who cannot confidently park their vehicle, cannot handle traffic congestion, especially at highway speeds.

If a driver is uncertain of the placement of their vehicle, relative to conditions around it, how can s/he be considered “safe”?

While I agree that driving is a privilege, I struggle with that on such a black & white level in cities with little public transportation infrastructure. Mobility is a right.

I would agree; mobility is a right. But not necessarily a motorized one …

As a company making products and services for people, you can do it in many ways. For me if I have the choice, which Lexus does, I will try to provide services that is for the benefit for my product audience.

Now, of course it’s not entirely up to me to call it a good or bad design, I do and should have an opinion on it too.

My reaction towards this feature comes from my concern on how people interact with other people and things in his surroundings, and how people have given less attention to his surroundings with the increase of convenience that products bring to us. We keep “improving” our lives with machines and automatic systems that we don’t have to be aware of the things around us. Things like road GPS systems serve a great purpose in helping us get to our destinations more efficiently, but there have been reports saying that over reliance on it also reduces the user’s brain performance. Actually, my point is, we are humans, and we are putting ourselves in unnecessary convenience.

Another example that I have came across. I was doing a research on people who lead a lifestyle surrounded by technology. One of the interviewees does financial consulting. He’s well-off. He’s house is filled with LCD screens, so are his cars. He has 2 young daughters and as soon as he realized the wonders of what LCD screen + cartoon do for them, he stopped discipline his daughters. He simply turns on the tvs and they would shutup and watch. He told us that like it was some innovation he came out with, with pride.

An extension to that is, once I was at a grocery store in the seafood section. A mom and kid came along. The mom points at the fish tanks and said “Look, fish!” at the toodler. The toodler replied “Sponge Bob!!!” Well, that is a whole other topic here, but while a parent relies on an external device or source to substitute their presence in their kids’ lives, this is what you get.

I sound like I want to create an ideal world, but who doesn’t? To me, I’d rather teach someone to parallel park for free than to provide a feature like that for them. Yeah I will starve to death, too bad for me then.

I have no problem parallel parking but my wife never has become very adept at it.
If I could afford to buy a Lexus and it could park itself better than she could, I would definitely want this option.
After a dozen years of her grinding rims against the curb and busting license plate covers, I finally thought it was finished when we built this fantastic garage behind our house.
She promptly bashed the rear fender on the door frame!
Seriously though, shes awesome in every other respect.