Earlier this year Volvo revealed its “Autonomous Parking” technology, which enables drivers to park their car using a mobile phone app.
The system relies on “Vehicle 2 Infrastructure technology”, which uses transmitters embedded in the road infrastructure to find an available space. Sensors and cameras on the vehicle provide information to the steering, brakes and throttle to guide the car from as far away as the car park entrance, detecting pedestrians and other cars along the way with no further input from the driver.
Volvo say it could be made available from 2014 in the new XC90, but in reality would require minor changes to our roads, car parks and insurance liability laws.
But they’re not the only ones working on such autonomous driving systems. Ford is developing a new automated parking technology that could enable drivers to park with only the push of a button from inside or outside of their car.
The technology, called “Fully Assisted Parking Aid”, is currently in the prototype phase and controls steering, gear selection, and forward and reverse motion to allow push-button parking.
Automatic parking has until now required the driver to stay inside the vehicle, shifting the gears and covering the brakes, but Ford’s Fully Assisted Parking Aid can function with a truly driverless car. Fortunately the lawyers have stepped in and the system is being developed to work only when the driver holds down a button in the car (or on a key fob or smartphone app) – such that they can override the system at any time.
Ford’s system, like Volvo’s, will detect pedestrians and other vehicles in the car’s path and operate the automatically operate the brakes if a potential collision is detected.
Audi have developed a similar system, first shown as a prototype on the A7 called “Piloted Parking”. This builds upon its current ‘park assist’ system and like Volvo’s will hunt for a suitable space before parking unaided.
Using a smartphone app, the driver leaves the car to park itself, which then notifies the driver via a message on the display once the car is parked and secure. The process begins in reverse when the driver selects the ‘pickup’ option, in which case the car returns to the drop-off point where the process was first activated.
All three systems are currently in development, so don’t expect to see them on the market for another three or four year, but they’re certainly on their way.