Once the domain of the chivalrous gentleman who dropped the ladies off in front while he hunted for a parking space, parking-lot chivalry in the near future may be dead. Volvo's new concept car, to be demonstrated later this week, not only parks itself, but first lets its passengers out and then finds an open space autonomously.
Transmitters in the road infrastructure inform the driver when the auto-parking service is available, and the driver uses a mobile-phone app to activate the system, then gets out and walks away, according to Volvo. The vehicle uses sensors to find and navigate itself to an open spot; the procedure is reversed when the driver returns 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 lot]," Volvo said in a statement. "Speed and braking are adapted for smooth integration in the parking environment."
The parking concept is one of several autonomous-driving projects the automaker is developing. Another is the Safe Road Trains for the Environment project in which Volvo and other European companies studied autonomous "platooned traffic" operating in a mixed environment with other vehicles at highway speeds on conventional roadways. Meanwhile, the automaker reported plans to introduce autonomous steering in the new Volvo XC90 at the end of 2014.
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