Volvo's built-in parking valet

ANDREW MACLEAN
Last updated 13:50 21/06/2013

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Car owners won't have to worry about shady parking attendants in the future.

They won't even have to put themselves through the banal task of scouring a multi-storey carpark for the last vacant spot. The car will do it all for them via your smartphone.

Volvo is the latest car maker to showcase the next stage of autonomous driving technology with a vehicle that can park itself.

The Swedish brand has released details of its new autonomous parking system ahead of a live demonstration at a media event next.

"Autonomous Parking is a concept technology that relieves the driver of the time-consuming  task of finding  a vacant parking space," said Thomas Broberg, Senior Safety Advisor for Volvo.

"The driver just drops the vehicle off at the entrance to the car park and picks it up at the same place later."

The vehicle uses the latest technologies that allow the car to communicate with the road and infrastructure network to determine, first of all, if there is a vacant car space nearby and alert the driver of its availability. The driver activates the system upon arriving at the parking station and simply leaves the car to its own devices.

The vehicle then uses a series of cameras, as well as radar and infrared sensors, to travel through car park and fill the vacant spot. Volvo says it can also detect other vehicles and pedestrians to move safely within the congested environment.

"Our approach is based on the principle that autonomously driven cars must be able to move safely in environments with non-autonomous vehicles and unprotected road users," added Broberg.

The Autonomous Parking concept is the next step in Volvo's development of driverless car technology, which has included participation in a European project dubbed SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) that allows drivers to join a platoon of vehicles guided by a professionally driven truck at speeds upto 90kmh.

But it is not the first car maker to extend driverless technology to the convenience of valet parking as Audi demonstrated a similar idea earlier this year.

-Fairfax Media Australia

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