Audi AG on Tuesday unveiled a new self-driving car technology that it says can allow a car to seek out a parking space in a garage, find it and park all without a driver in the seat.
The parking technology, shown off at the Consumer Electronics Show here, is the most dramatic example yet of new features that are slowly being developed to reduce the need for human drivers to control their vehicles Toyota Motor Corp. earlier showed off a car that is capable of seeing further than the human eye, offering a way to sense and potentially react to obstacles before the driver inside even sees them.
Each car company has said that as it continues to build new technologies that allow a car to take over some function of the driving experience, it moves the industry closer to fully autonomous vehicles.
“Today’s cars are rolling computers,” said Wolfgang Duerheimer, head of Audi’s technical development efforts, who added that the car maker’s top-tier vehicles contain 5,000 semiconductors to manage its various functions. Between the various sensors placed throughout the car, a lot of information is being generated to allow driver-assistance technology to work. “To make driving even more convenient and efficient, we constantly process an enormous amount of data.”
Audi said it also has developed a technology that will help drivers manage stop-and-go traffic easier, effectively watching all cars nearby and following in lockstep as they creep along the pavement. This, Audi says, allows drivers to focus on other things, as well as reduce the monotony of bumper-to-bumper traffic that can lead to lost focus and occasional accidents.
But, Audi said, it doesn’t want to take control of the car out of the customer’s hands. The company said it prefers to call its technology “piloted driving” rather than “autonomous driving” because it believes that just as with an airplane, ultimate responsibility for the car rests with its driver.
The company also said it wants to offer customers the ability to drive their cars when they want. “When I want to have fun, I drive by myself,” said Ricky Hudi, who heads up electronics development for Audi.