Auto Autonomy From Audi
SELF-DRIVE AND SELF-PARK STRESS RELEASE
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Audi used their demonstrator cars to show how they can help to alleviate some of the stress of urban motoring.
The Vorsprung durch Technik brand manufacturer has two working prototypes in hand, trying to help reduce the driver’s workload in stressful situations, such as in congested traffic, by ‘hands (and feet)-free’ driving in moving traffic and completely ‘driver-free’ parking.
The two prototypes use a system that works at speeds of between zero and 37mph, steering the car (within certain constraints), accelerating and braking autonomously. The speed of the car – and that of nearby vehicles – is analysed constantly, reacting to changing events, using Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go enhanced by the addition of lateral guidance. Two radar sensors monitor everything up to 250 metres ahead, at a scan angle of around 35 degrees, with a wide-angle video camera monitoring lane markings: this can help to detect pedestrians, other vehicles, safety guardrails and other objects. Eight ultrasonic sensors monitor the zones directly in front of the car and at its corners.
Drivers are able to turn off the system if not required and, in return, if the system decides that it itself is not needed, it will tell the driver to take controls back over.
According to Audi: “Struggling to manoeuvre into a parking space or home garage, and then struggling to get out of the car with kids, dogs, pushchairs and other paraphernalia, without damaging it, could be a thing of the past with the help of Audi piloted driving.”
How to park was demonstrated on the second demonstrator at the Consumer Electronics Show and amazingly at it may sound, the system allows the driver to get out of the car in front of the garage or before negotiating a tight parking spot, and then to tell the car to park itself via the remote key fob or a smartphone.
Using its sensors, the car drives automatically into the parking space or the garage while the driver watches, stopping immediately if it detects an obstacle in its way. And once it is in position, the system turns the engine off, deactivates the ignition and locks the doors before sending a confirmation to the driver. And it works in reverse too, manoeuvring itself back out ready to be driven off.
Quite how any people watching a driverless car get itself out of a space (or garage) react is yet to be revealed.
Audi are also looking at a system that has the car ‘talking’ to a public car park via a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) connection which will enable the car to find the nearest parking space and to guide itself autonomously to that space and then park. Audi is currently in the process of equipping a car park in its base town of Ingolstadt, Germany, with the relevant technology to test it out.
Jetsons time is nearly here.