Do you hate finding parking in a busy shopping centre car park? We do, but if Honda’s vision of the future comes reality, we’ll soon be able to leave our cars at the entrance while they go and park themselves.
Demonstrated recently at the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) World Congress in Tokyo, Honda’s system isn’t quite as advanced as Nissan’s recently-demonstrated self-driving LEAF technology, but it does allow the driver to get out of their car at a specially-designated valet parking zone before the car itself parks itself in an available free space in the parking lot.
As with many other self-driving or semi-autonomous car prototypes we’ve seen, Honda’s self-parking Fit EV (better known in some parts of the world as the Jazz) uses a series of cameras to ensure it doesn’t hit any obstacles, other cars, or pedestrians while manoeuvring without a driver. Unlike other self-driving cars we’ve seen however, Honda’s solution doesn’t require fitting cameras to each side of the car for 360 degree visibility. Instead, it taps into existing security cameras on-site.
We’ll explain. These days, most Japanese cars come with reversing cameras fitted as standard, but all-round cameras are still considered expensive extras. Meanwhile, nearly every car park or parking garage is covered from multiple angles by high-quality security cameras designed to protect customers’ cars and the premises itself.
By adding a WiFi wireless connection between the car and the computer at the parking lot, along with the necessary computer software to interface with the Fit EV’s drive control systems, Honda’s prototype automated parking system is cheaper than a full-blown self-driving car, yet allows cars to automatically be parked without driver intervention. Further still, because all modern EVs are essentially drive-by-wire, a lot of the control circuitry needed to drive the car remotely already exists in the car.
Honda says the prototype system can handle parking multiple cars at the same time, maintaining direct links with each car to ensure they are safely guided into their allotted parking space without incident, and believes the system can be scaled to function in any size of car park. Like other fully or semi-autonomous driving technology we’ve seen demonstrated in Evs lately, Honda says the automated valet parking feature should be ready for production cars by or before 2020.
While we love Honda’s vision of the future — one where the car does the hard job of finding a parking space rather than the driver — we can’t help but feel Honda is a little behind Japanese rival Nissan in terms of automated driving technology. Nevertheless, the idea of having our cars do some of the driving for us does make the Transport Evolved team a little giddy with geeky joy.
We just have one question no-one has answered yet: Who plugs the self-driving EVs in when they need to charge, or do all these self-driving cars need wireless charging technology too?
Would you like a self-driving car? Would you trust it to park itself in the parking lot, or do you think it’s a recipe for disaster? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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