VMI’s New ParkSmart Sensor: Educating Drivers One Message at a Time

If you’ve ever been in a minivan or van with a person who uses a wheelchair and a vehicle ramp, you’ve likely had to park far, far away from your destination.

Van with parking sensor in operation

Even when disabled parking spots are available nearer a destination, they’re often misused by other drivers… or the adjacent blue-striped loading/unloading areas are blocked by other vehicles, motorcycles, or shopping carts. Those obstacles make it impossible to safely deploy and use vehicle ramps and can make transferring out of the car and into a wheelchair much more difficult.

On Nov. 20, Vantage Mobility International (VMI) launched the ParkSmart sensor system during the Abilities Expo Virtual Experience.

When activated, the sensor system begins to work 30 seconds after the vehicle’s doors are shut. The system scans for obstacles within 8 feet of the vehicle; if an obstacle is detected, ParkSmart delivers an audio message: “Excuse me! You’re blocking entry to this wheelchair-accessible vehicle. Could you please move the vehicle or object so the owner can access their vehicle? Thank you so much!”

The message repeats three times, and the sensor system has been designed with measures to conserve battery life.

In a news announcement, VMI CEO Mark Shaughnessy said, “We strive to understand the challenges that our customers face whenever we embark on new product innovations. Our goal is to solve for the problems that create challenges for customers. This approach to designing wheelchair-accessible vehicles is what sets VMI apart from other manufacturers.”

The patent-pending system is available as a standard feature in VMI Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica wheelchair vans with Northstar in-floor ramp systems.


About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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