You may be thinking that should such a car exist that it will look like something from another planet. That is of course until you see the actual Volvo Self-Parking Driverless Car. Don’t rush out quite yet to your local dealer to put your order in, as it isn’t expected to hit the open market till 2017.
There are some basic self-parking resources already in many of the vehicles of today, but they are just a mere glimpse of what is to come. There are features like cruise control, steer by wire and mitigated braking that all lends a helping hand for parking, but they all require a behind the wheel operator. What is on the horizon is a car that almost thinks for itself.
While pondering on this not so far in the future vehicle you may be visualizing it as something that appears like it is from another planet. You will be quite surprised to learn that it has all of the looks that a Volvo S60 Sedan is comprised of. On the inside it is clean and neat and virtually uncluttered.
What you will see are all the tools required for self navigation. It has a camera designed for forward looking. Look closely behind the rear view mirror and you will discover a pod that has a laser mounted scanner attached to it. In strategic points throughout the car sonar emitters have been installed. For the GPS enthusiasts this too is present but not clearly identified.
The Volvo Self-Parking Car is still in its testing phase. During a demonstration the vehicle was parked driverless merely with the press of a button on the demonstrator’s iPhone. This was done through a mobile app that possessed a “park now” button. As those watching the demo looked on, the Self-Parking Volvo proceeded at a slow pace to a designated spot. Once arriving, it then shifted into reverse and proceeded to back into the designated parking spot, and then concluded the demo by shutting down.
No doubt for the viewer’s seeing an empty car park itself must have been a tremendous experience. Then added to this was the demonstration of instructions to the vehicle in the same manner, via the press of a button that said “pick me up now”. The vehicle started, went into gear and returned to where it had received its first park instruction.
Now while this was super exciting it cannot be forgotten that the vehicle at that time was still going through its test phase. It was revealed that the path the vehicle followed for parking and returning was pre-programmed. This may have reduced the impressiveness somewhat as there have been other pre-programmed driverless demonstrations like the BMW’s presentation of the CES 2014 in Las Vegas.
While looking at the concept of the Self-Parking Car some might be aware of Google’s approach to the driverless automobile. Now that truly did present a totally futuristic look that to many was a little over the top. It was comprised of a computer laden interior with a maze of diagnostic equipment and roof mounted sensors.
The big test for the Volvo Self-Parking vehicle is going to come when it is truly ready to be road tested in a public setting. The proposal is 100 of these vehicles will be set loose on a 30 mile stretch of road encompassing Gothenburg. The focus will be on how the vehicles handle themselves in the everyday environment, and how they will respond when caught up in slow moving traffic. Then it has to be determined how the public is going to react when they see a driverless car maneuvering about them.
According to those involved the current test vehicles already have the ability to adapt their speed and merge with the traffic. It has to be pointed out that even with these advancements the car is still in the R & D mode.
While for the general public the hype will focus around the convenience of owning a vehicle that has the ability to perform such as this on its own, the promoters are bringing to mind the safety features that a car with these capabilities can offer.
This factor is going on the premise that many accidents occur because of human error. Anything that can help reduce these types of errors is considered a safety future. Added to the many benefits outlined for the Volvo Self-Parking vehicle, is the idea that automated driving such as this has the possibility to reduce fuel consumption by up to half of the current standards.