Driving and parking – where have the people gone?

We’re told there would be fewer accidents and traffic snarls, and time spent looking for parking could be spent doing…..well, anything else. Thanks to Volvo, the fully automated, driverless car is now closer than ever. But are we ready for it?

Volvo will become the first car manufacturer in the world to release a self-parking car that interacts safely with other road users. It’s different to the innovations by Audi and others, because the driver doesn’t even need to be in the seat for it to operate. In theory, with the right command from a person’s smart phone, this car could safely drive itself anywhere. 

Click here for a demonstration.

In a review by the Courier Mail, Volvo’s safety expert explains it this way: “The driverless car interacts safely and smoothly with other cars and pedestrians in the car park. The driver just drops the vehicle off at the entrance to the car park and picks it up in the same place later.”

At the moment, the company is focusing on the car being able to “valet” park itself using an app on the driver’s phone, however clearly the race is on to take it to the open road.

For the time being, let’s not worry about public liability laws or infrastructure requirements that could prove to be a barrier to this innovation. An advancement of this kind will surely prompt safety concerns as to whether it is a good idea to even consider taking control away from the driver.

However, Professor Mark Wallace from the Faculty of Information Technology at Monash University thinks it is inevitable. He says mathematics is the answer. He believes using complex formulas to control and direct driverless cars will ensure our vehicles drive in a much more predictable way, musing “it would be much safer than us lot”. So, if he’s right, how long until we can program our GPS and then take a nap in the back seat, or better still send our car on errands or to the shops?

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