Jaguar Land Rover and Ford have revealed they’ve been working hard to get their self-driving cars up to speed, trialing new technology that allows a self driving car to not only park itself, but find a space to park in.
The trial is all part of the UK Autodrive project, a government backed initiative which is spending millions to push autonomous vehicle technology.
Tested on the streets of Milton Keynes in the UK, both Land Rover and Ford showed off cars finding a space and parking in it without any input at all from a driver.
Now, parking in a space (without much help from a driver) is something many mid-range cars can do today without much fuss, the key thing here is the cars also found the space in the first place. This was all done using something called ‘collaborative parking’.
This service is powered by data from the parking sensors of vehicles using a car park. All of this data is then shown on a map that highlights which spaces may be free. It’s thought that the system will also be able to incorporate data from a car parks’ own monitoring system.
Give us a brake
This wasn’t the only thing on test, Land Rover also showed off some safety features: Emergency Vehicle Warning (EVW) and Electronic Emergency Brake Light (EBL).
EVW is to help a vehicle and its passenger know when an emergency vehicle is approaching and, most importantly, what side it is coming up on.
While EBL is something that will warn your connected car that something in front has braked quickly, giving it a few extra seconds to hopefully avoid a crash.
It’s great to see driverless car trials on the streets of the UK, but all of this comes just days after the news that a driverless Uber was involved in a fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona.
While that particular incident is still the subject of interrogation as to who or what was to blame, it does put into question the testing of driverless vehicles on the open road.
Speaking to the Guardian, Professor Noel Sharkey of the University of Sheffield and famed Robot Wars judge, was quick to point out the potential safety benefits of driverless cars, but felt the tech was still nascent, noting “autonomous vehicles present us with the a great future opportunity to make our roads safer.
“But the technology is just not ready yet and needs to mature before it goes on the road. Too many mistakes and the public may turn its back on the technology.”
Even Stephen King, author of possessed car classic Christine and someone who nearly lost his life when a car ran him over, had something to say on the matter, Tweeting: “This year’s auto accident score: people-driven vehicles, about 9,600 fatalities. Driverless vehicles: 1. You do the math.”
Although this simplifies what is a complicated and contentious subject, it shows the driverless car debate is one that will run and run.