Audi reveal autonomous car parking technology
Audi showed its autonomous car to the press at CES in Las Vegas last week, to rival Google's and Volkswagen's recent efforts.
But Audi has a trick up its sleeve to set itself apart from its competitors. The working prototype on show could be parked with a smartphone from outside the vehicle.
The system has been designed to help families park their cars, with Audi claiming struggles such as getting out of the car with dogs, kids and prams will be a thing of the past.
Called Audi Piloted Driving, the technology lets people get out of the car and then navigate it into a tight parking space with their smartphone.
Under the driver's supervision, sensors help guide the car into tight squeezes, stopping the second it detects an obstacle.
When the car has parked itself, it'll switch off its engine and deactivate the ignition before locking the doors.
Pressing a button will manoeuvre the car out of the parking space if need be, allowing passengers to get in.
Sounds great, but that doesn't make it a fully autonomous car like Google's. Instead, it's a fantastic, beneficial feature for people that have trouble... er... parking.
The self-driving Audi A7 featured was a working prototype, with Audi showing visitors how the system works on a practical level. Audi also showed how the system helps alleviate traffic jam tedium in an A6.
The car constantly analyses speed data from nearby vehicles. If it senses a traffic jam at speeds less than 37mph, then drivers can activate the assistance function.
The system can react to other cars moving between lanes, and even operate in lanes with no markings. It can detect pedestrians and other objects, and features incredible levels of precision.
In short people can let the car do all the work in a traffic jam, and divert their attention to other matters within reason. When the jam disperses, the system prompts the driver to take control of the car again.
The A7 is autonomous to an extent, and Audi must feel it's onto something, especially when considering how autonomous cars have had something of a tough time lately.
Research published in November last year showed that 56 per cent of drivers don't feel driverless cars will be the norm over the next decade, while 40 per cent refused to even consider owning one.
That's despite the technology amassing an impressive 300,000 miles of accident-free driving, and practical tests showing how effective the technology can be to the elderly and infirm.
Written by John Meadowcroft.