If you own a house with a parking spot or a garage and you happen to own an electric car, the chances are you just drive up and plug in at the end of a long day, using your car’s on-board timer to charge at night time when electricity is cheaper.
Here at Transport Evolved, we’ve become fairly adept at pulling up and plugging in without a second thought. Our editorial team does after all have more than fifteen years of collective electric car ownership clocked up, and we’ve grown accustomed to the reassuring series of noises that accompanies successfully plugging in an electric car to charge. But we also understand that for some would-be electric car drivers, the thought of having to physically plug an electric car in every night to charge is just too much to bear.
if you’re one such person, you’ll be pleased to read about Honda’s latest fusion of electric car and self-driving technologies: a car which not only parks itself, but charges itself too.
Following in the tyre tracks of Toyota’s self-parking, inductively-charging Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid comes a Honda Fit EV fitted with low-speed autonomous driving technology and an inductive charging system. The same driving technology used last year to demonstrate valet parking capabilities for future autonomous parking lots, this particular version of the self-driving, self charging technology is designed to be used in a domestic environment, working in concert with cameras mounted on the owner’s home.
In operation, the system is pretty simple to use. The drive gets out of his or her car, and activates the self-parking feature using their smartphone or tablet PC. The car then uses image feeds from the building and its own rear-view camera to figure out where it is in real time, slowly backing itself into the parking space and aligning itself perfectly with the inductive charging pad.
Once parked, charging starts automatically.
Honda, which started tests of the system yesterday at a house just outside Tokyo, says the feature could be a great sale point for those who struggle with their parking, not to mention a hassle-free way to ensure maximum power transfer for wireless charging.
If you’re like us and wondering why anyone would want either a self-parking car or inductive charging at home, it’s worth remembering two very important facts which we assume helped influence Honda’s developmental process.
First of all, Japanese homes — and by association, Japanese garages — are fairly small by U.S. or even European standards. Instead of large two or more car garages, many Japanese homes have simple, small carports or garages, and in large urban areas even less. Developing a technology where the driver can exit the vehicle before parking means the car can fit in a far smaller space than it would with the driver still in the car, because there’s no need for the door to open if the driver is already safely outside the car.
Second, Japan, like the rest of the world, is facing an increasingly aged population. With the average driver age rising rather than falling, automakers are keen to do everything they can to develop driving aids which make it easier for seniors to continue to drive into old age. Self-parking — and self charging — is probably pretty high on that list.
Given the fact that Honda isn’t known for its love of electric cars, preferring hydrogen fuel cell technology instead, we’re doubtful you’ll see this self-driving, self charging technology in the marketplace any time soon.
But hey, if you’ve always had trouble parking, can’t be bothered to plug in, or just can’t fit in your garage, this could be the technology for you.
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