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Volvo unveils a car that parks itself

Published June 24, 2013

Volvo has developed a smart, driverless vehicle that will park itself.

The car is the “next giant leap” for the automaker in the development of safe cars, the company says, although the vehicle is still just a concept car.

Here’s how it works: The driver arrives at a designated drop off zone at a car park. The driver gets out of the car, presses a button on a mobile phone application and the car drives off to the parking garage.

Using sensors, the car looks for a space and then parks itself. Once done, it automatically sends the driver a notification that the car is parked.

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When you need the car back, you press a button again, and the car navigates through the parking lot, returning to the designated pick-up area.

What about the risk of collisions with other cars or pedestrians?

The Swedish automaker says detection and auto-brake systems will allow the autonomous car to react safely and smoothly with other cars and pedestrians in the parking lot.

“Our approach is based on the principle that autonomously driven cars must be able to move safely in environments with non-autonomous vehicles and unprotected road users,” Thomas Broberg, senior safety adviser, said in a news release.

The company has produced a YouTube video to show how the technology works.

Toscan Bennett, vice-president of product planning, said autonomous driving is the foundation of the company’s safety strategy and “a key enabler” for its Vision 2020 to have no fatalities or serious injuries in a Volvo car in the year 2020.

“Who wouldn’t want a car that drops you off at your doorstep and then goes off and parks itself,” Bennett said in the YouTube video.

Volvo says it’s the first car manufacturer in the world to show a prototype of a self-parking car that interacts with other road users.

Safety adviser Broberg says Volvo will introduce the first features on autonomous steering in the Volvo XC90 at the end of 2014.

There is no word on when this smart-parking car will reach customers.

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