By the number of cars with parking assist, you'd think that parking a car is the hardest thing in the world to do. Among the cars available today with some sort of self-parking feature are the Ford Focus, Toyota Prius, and Lexus LS460 – and those have their fair share of glitches. Volvo is joining the club with their own self-parking car, but this one is a little bit different from the rest.
Volvo's self-parking car is still in the concept phase, but it will be shown at a media event next week. Like the automated parking feature that Audi introduced earlier this year (here), the Volvo will find and park in an open spot all by itself, without the driver in the car. It's intended to save drivers from the inconvenience of finding a parking spot and it manages to react smoothly and safely to pedestrians and other vehicles. It's as simple as entering the parking lot, exiting the vehicle, and using a mobile application to tell your car you want it to park itself. Then when you return to the lot, use your application and the car will come to the exit for you.
Volvo has a long term goal of leading the car industry in autonomous driving technology. The automaker wants to move its products past the concept line and into the production line so that it can make a strong presence on the streets. While the autonomous parking is still just a concept, Volvo's next model of the XC90 will feature autonomous steering, which is a part of the autonomous parking. The all-new XC90 will be revealed at the end of 2014.
It seems like everyday there is news about new automated driver technology. Ford is using robotic drivers to test their trucks, every luxury sedan is laden with 'assist' features like lane departure, blind spot, and adaptive cruise control, and now Volvo is developing a serious driverless parking car. The future is here, and pretty soon humans will not be needed to drive cars. The only problem with automated driving is that it takes the fun away from the experience. Maybe there's a way to program that into automation, too.