Volvo demonstrates driverless self-parking system

Experimental car finds a vacant space and parks itself, without a driver inside

Published: June 20, 2013, 1:00 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 3:09 PM

Automatic parking systems are now available on a broad range of vehicles, from compacts to luxury cars. But they all still require a driver in the vehicle.

Volvo is taking the concept a step further, demonstrating an experimental car that finds and parks in a vacant space by itself, without the driver inside, while also interacting safely and smoothly with other cars and pedestrians in the parking lot.

"Autonomous Parking is a concept technology that relieves the driver of the time-consuming task of finding a vacant parking space," says Thomas Broberg, senior safety advisor at Volvo Car Group. "The driver just drops the vehicle off at the entrance to the car park and picks it up in the same place later," he explains.

The driver uses a mobile phone application to activate the Autonomous Parking system and then walks away from the car.

Transmitters in the road infrastructure inform the driver when the service is available and sensors in the vehicle use find and navigate to a free parking space. The procedure is reversed when the driver comes back to pick up the car.

Pioneering technologies

Volvo says combining Autonomous Parking with detection and auto brake for other objects makes it possible for the car to interact safely with other cars and pedestrians. Speed and braking are regulated for smooth integration in the parking environment.

"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," says Broberg.

Volvo aims to become a leader in the area of autonomous driving by moving beyond concepts to delivering technologies to customers. The Autonomous Parking concept is one of several such projects under development.

Volvo has also been the only automaker participating in the European SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project, in which electronically platooned traffic operates in a mixed environment with other road users.

"The autonomous parking and platooning technologies are still being developed. However, we will take the first steps towards our leadership aim by introducing the first features with autonomous steering in the all-new Volvo XC90, which will be revealed at the end of 2014," says Broberg.