Future Volvos to park themselves
The Swedish manufacturer has been trialling the technology, and hopes to have it available for production around the year 2020.
The plan is for a driver to pull up to the entrance of a car park and get out, at which point, their vehicle will go and park itself and then send an alert to the owner's smartphone. On return, the car will drive itself back to a designated 'pick-up zone' to meet its owner.
The test Volvo V40 is also able to recognise when a pedestrian or another car blocks its way, and will apply the brakes to avoid an accident.
However, Volvo says that it needs infrastructure upgrades in the car parks to allow it to work. A space-monitoring system would help the car find a space quickly and efficiently.
Volvo is not the only manufacturer that is trialling self-parking cars – Audi has also shown off the technology, but has been looking at using it in private garages as well as public car parks.
Volvo is also trialling technology that would see cars talk to one another and the world around them.
The cars would use 3G and WiFi to pass on messages about the state of the road surface, broken down cars and traffic lights.
The system would be able to transmit warnings to other cars if it is sat stationary with its hazard lights on, and if a low-friction surface causes its ESP anti-skid control to kick in.
The emergency services would also be able to send messages to cars equipped with the car-to-car communication technology to flash a warning of their presence up on the dashboard.
Volvo also hopes it will be able to communicate with traffic lights, so the car will be able to show how long it is until the lights turn green, and what speed the driver should maintain to get to the next lights when they are also green.
'There is 50% less chance of being injured in a Volvo than there was in 2000, and by 2020 our target is that no-one will be injured in one of our cars,' said the senior technical leader of the safety division, Erik Coelingh.
'More and more we are seeing how the car is taking account of its surroundings, making life safer and more comfortable.'
By Tom Webster