For anyone who has ever wanted to drop their car at the entrance to an airport parking and lot and run for a plane, Volvo has developed a car that finds a vacant space and parks itself, without the driver inside.
While driverless, the car interacts safely and smoothly with other cars and pedestrians in the car park, and for media who would like to see the concept car in action, Volvo is prepared to demonstrate it this week at a closely guarded location. "Autonomous Parking is a concept technology that relieves the driver of the time-consuming task of finding a vacant parking space. The driver just drops the vehicle off at the entrance to the car park and picks it up in the same place later," says Thomas Broberg, senior safety advisor Volvo Car Group.
"Our approach is based on the principle that autonomously driven cars must be able to move safely in environments with non-autonomous vehicles and unprotected road users," Broberg said. This is not the kind of self-parking car that just backs itself into a parking space while the driver stands by. The Volvo driver uses a mobile phone application to activate the car's autonomous parking function and then just walks away.
Using sensors, the self-parking car locates an empty parking slot and navigates to it. Then it maneuvers into the slot. The procedure is reversed when the driver comes back to pick up the car. Combining autonomous driving with detection and auto brake for other objects makes it possible for the car to interact safely with other cars and pedestrians in the parking garage or parking lot. Speed and braking are adapted for integration with other cars in the parking environment propelled by human drivers.
Volvo plans to introduce its first vehicle with autonomous steering to the market in 2014 with the Volvo XC90, a luxury midsize SUV.
Broberg said, "The autonomous parking and platooning technologies are still being developed. However, we will take the first steps towards our leadership aim by introducing the first features with autonomous steering in the all-new Volvo XC90, which will be revealed at the end of 2014."
Volvo tested autonomous cars successfully in the Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) project, which was completed in 2012. The SARTRE platoon consists of a lead truck followed by four Volvos driven semi-autonomously in a close convoy at speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 mph). A lead vehicle with a professional driver takes responsibility for a platoon. At this time, drivers of the following vehicles can do other things that would usually be prohibited for safety reasons, such as operating a phone, reading a book, watching a movie or eating a meal. The SARTRE project is the only one of its kind to focus on technology that can be implemented on conventional highways where platooned traffic operates in a mixed environment with other road users.
Volvo was one of seven European partners in the SARTRE project and the only participating car manufacturer.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2013. All rights reserved.
PHOTO: Volvo self-parking concept car in a parking garage (Photo courtesy Volvo)