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Many automakers are in the process of developing autonomous-driving technology with the intention of bringing a self-driving car to market within the next 15 years. These vehicles will have the ability to turn, brake, accelerate, and swerve to avoid a collision. They will also be able to park themselves, which will come as a relief to many drivers. While fully-autonomous cars may still be far from the dealership, many cars with self-parking features can be found on the road today.
A typical self-parking system relies on sensors, cameras, radars, and computer controls. Recently however, Swedish automaker, Volvo has created a concept car that can park itself without the help of a driver. With this car, a driver can enter a parking lot, get out of the car and press a button on their key fob and the car will find a free spot, drive itself there, and park itself.
This new Volvo can also be remotely recalled. The driver can hit another button, and the car will leave its parking spot and automatically return to the drop-off point. This automated valet service comes as thanks to the vehicle-to-infrastructure technology that Volvo has developed, which allows cars to communicate with similarly-equipped parking garages.
Though this futuristic technology is appealing, there are some obvious safety concerns that need to be addressed. Automakers are confident that these self-parking cars are completely safe. They are equipped with a series of ultrasonic sensors and cameras that monitor the car's surroundings and will detect vehicles, pedestrians, and other moving objects. The technology allows the car to steer around pedestrians, brake to a complete halt, and quickly react to avoid a collision.
Drivers shouldn't expect to these robotic cars anytime soon, primarily because a comprehensive infrastructure has to be built. Parking lots and garages will have to be fitted with sensors, transmitters, and broadband Internet connectivity, which is very expensive. The self-parking systems are also quite expensive. Until this technology becomes more affordable, it will not be produced for the mass-market. However, the technology is here and self-parking cars will, at some point, become commonplace.
This technology is another step towards a fully automated car and regulators will have to consider what these advancements mean for our current traffic laws.
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