Fu­ture is just around cor­ner

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - NEWS -

A CAR that could drive you to work and then park it­self af­ter it drops you at the front door may be just around the cor­ner.

Audi says the tech­nol­ogy is ready to take the daily grind out of stop-start traf­fic. The only bar­rier is government reg­u­la­tions. But don’t ex­pect to be able to read a news­pa­per, do your make-up or up­date your so­cial me­dia sta­tus while on the move. The com­pany plans to in­stall tech­nol­ogy to make sure the driver is still alert.

‘‘To hand over con­trol (of the car) in stop and go traf­fic, we are there,’’ the head of Audi’s tech­ni­cal devel­op­ment Wolf­gang Durheimer, told News Lim­ited at the Geneva mo­tor show. ‘‘The fu­ture has ar­rived. We know how to do it. But you can­not sit in the back seat. It will mon­i­tor whether the driver is still there and as soon as you dis­ap­pear from your driver’s po­si­tion, we will stop the car and it will ac­ti­vate the emer­gency brake,’’ he said.

The car can also in­ter­vene if the driver is not paying full at­ten­tion.

‘‘We have the in­tel­li­gence in the car. We have the cam­eras, the radar de­tec­tion, the sen­sors, the speed lim­iters. The next step is to mon­i­tor the driver and look at eye con­tact. If they are not con­cen­trat­ing we can blow a horn or shake the seat.’’

Audi says the ‘‘pi­loted driv­ing’’ sys­tems will likely ar­rive on its next gen­er­a­tion flag­ship limou­sine, the A8 (pic­tured), the cur­rent ver­sion of which costs about $200,000 in Aus­tralia.

It is likely that government reg­u­la­tions will only al­low au­tonomous driv­ing sys­tems to work at low speeds, less than 20km/h. Audi is al­ready run­ning tri­als of au­tonomous cars. To date it has re­ported no crashes.

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