Do you remember the pain and worry of trying to pass your driving test, only to be fooled by something as simple as parking? Something a robot can do?
New legislation from the government, presents future drivers a break from the worry of parallel parking, because the car will be able to do it itself. £30 million is being invested to develop self-driving and self-parking cars for the UK market.
The new scheme follows the new rules announced in June allowing drivers the use of remote control parking. Affecting the Highway Code and relevant regulations earlier in the year, already there has been overwhelming support from car manufacturers, insurers, and even haulage companies.
The changes include remote control parking and motorway assist, affecting all drivers but possibly more practically for those who have mobility challenges, making it possible to use tight parking spaces with computer accuracy. It also has the potential to make cars more energy efficient, cheaper and cleaner to run which also improves air quality for pedestrians.
These changes to the law mean that the UK takes a step closer to making the legal side of self-driving vehicles more achievable.
The technology used for self-parking is in the same vein as collision avoidance systems and, the technology behind fully automated self-driving cars. With parking being one of the top reasons for failing driving tests, and a significant issue for many drivers, the demand for it is clear.
Jaguar Land Rover began testing their self-parking vehicles around Milton Keynes earlier in the year with a black Range Rover complete with fancy graphics and roof-rack sensors. So far, a safety driver is always present during the tests. JLR see the move as the next step towards autonomous cars, getting drivers used to the idea of giving some control to the vehicle without ceding all control.
Ford is also testing new systems including one called Collaborative Parking where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can assist drivers with parking while not taking over the manoeuvre entirely. The car will display a diagram, inside the vehicle, with red and green spots to help the driver find the right open space. It helps cut down on time spent looking for the right parking spot which, their estimates show, could use as much as a full day every year per driver.
Now, this technology is by no means new, it has been around for a while now, but it really has taken a while to become fully accepted into daily drivers worlds'. Of course, there are many creases in the system to be fully ironed out with trust in the system to take full control of a drivers' vehicle and move the steering wheel into a spot. However, as more and more tests are conducted and new cars are fitted with more and more automated systems to assist daily driving tasks we take for granted, both the desire and need to automation will continue to grow.
"Self-driving vehicles have the potential to ‘revolutionise the way we move people and goods across the UK’ as well as their part in making for a greener future"
- Business Minister, Richard Harrington
The UK is already leading the way in developing this kind of technology, and the new initiatives aim to increase the pace of the development by offering additional funding. Now, remote control functions can be used in a variety of ways including a key fob from the manufacturer to a device on a mobile phone. Overall, the driver must continue to maintain overall vehicle control. Changes to the Highway Code mean that there will be clarity about the use of such systems as well as changing lanes on the motorway. It will also look at the rules around using handheld devices while in the driving seat.
The UK has made another step towards automated driving. However, the question remains as to how many UK drivers would be willing to give up control of their vehicle, to a computer, and sit back and enjoy the ride.