The days of having to spend ages looking for a parking spot are near an end. According to a story from The Economist, Google has been hard at work developing new technology that will allow a driver to abandon their car while it went around on its own looking for a parking spot. The technology works using cameras and aerials mounted on the car.
The BBC’s popular motoring show, Top Gear, also mentioned a similar system that’s being developed by Volvo on this past Sunday's episode. They also jokingly said that street lamps will be full of missing Volvo posters as their owners wouldn't be able to find their cars after they've gone off on their own to look for parking (they assumed that technology to locate their parked cars isn't available). However, the story from The Economist goes on to say that once the car is parked, it sends a message to its owner showing where it is and he/she can either go to the car or call it back to where it dropped them off.
The technology is meant to initially work in regulated areas such as airport car parks and shopping malls rather than the open road. This will demand car parks to have buried wire guides that the car can follow to an empty spot, but car park operators are unwilling to invest in the infrastructure unless there are a good number of cars with the technology. Also, car owners are unlikely to buy a car where use of its technology is limited or non-existent.
It’s not just Volvo and Google that have been trying to get autonomous cars on the road either: BMW, GM, Ford, Volkswagen, and Freie University Berlin are a few examples of firms experimenting with autonomous vehicles.
Apart from infrastructure and development of the technology itself, safety legislation is another thing that manufacturers will have to consider before making it available to the public. For example, California and other American states require a driver to be present in autonomous vehicles in case of any difficulty. In addition to this, America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stated that the vehicles should not yet be made available to the public and can only be used for testing – that is until the technology has been proven safe enough for the public.
By Alex Kisiri