Manufacturers have often sought ways to make parking simpler; specifically parallel parking. Parallel park assists have been around for many years, allowing the driver to find the space and let the car park itself. These systems, however, remain complicated and time consuming, and while clever, not particularly practical.
But Volvo has another idea. They've created a car that finds an open spot in a traditional parking lot, drives to it and settles itself, without the driver needing to be in the car. Then, upon return, the car will be ready and waiting outside the door. How's that for valet service?
Volvo's self-parking car promises to eliminate the timely task of navigating a parking lot, looking for a space, and then proceeding to park before walking into the shop. The system uses sensors and transmitters in the road to locate a vacant spot and then park itself, all the while avoiding pedestrians and other moving vehicles. For the driver, it's as simple as pulling into a parking lot and stopping in the designated drop-off zone. From there, they simply click a button on a phone application instructing the car to find a space and park. Then, once the driver's errands have been completed, the car can be set to leave the parking spot, via the phone app, and proceed to the pick-up zone, ready for the driver's return.
In theory, this sounds brilliant, and the concept vehicle appears to handle the task well — it even stops for the badly built skater kid that slides across its path. The technology, Volvo claims, could hit production "sooner than you think," although that statement clearly remains relative. Developing the infrastructure for the self-parking car, too, could be proportionately cost effective, according to the manufacturer. Volvo also announced that its new XC90, set to be revealed at the end of 2014, will feature autonomous steering. Exactly how "autonomous" that will be remains to be seen. What's clear, however, is that Volvo's driverless master plan remains fully in motion.