Nissan's NSC-2015, on display at the CEATEC 2012 conference in Japan, can find its own parking spot and return to pick you up after being summoned via mobile app. The car uses sensors and a camera to keep track of its location, and gives an owner a 360-degree camera view via an LTE connection of the area around the car, allowing him or her to remotely trigger the car's alarm in case of suspicious activity. Nissan will begin selling the car in 2015.
Herein lies the biggest obstacle of autonomous vehicles: Human's inability to come to terms with the fact that we are not better than computers at many tasks. It turns out, that computers are now incredibly good about seeing objects like children and other cars. They (computers) are never distracted like a human, their sensors watch constantly and don't turn away when they are looking for (or at) their cell phone, children, or any other of many distractions that Americans have in their vehicles. Computer systems have reaction times are far better than human reaction times. I only wonder why collision avoidance systems aren't more popular. The technology on the top of the line Prius is where the future needs to go on all automobiles, these systems would solve many of the easy to avoid accidents that are caused by distracted drivers. Granted, it will be some time before cars go completely autonomous, we love to be in control, but systems that prevent distracted driver errors would save the insurance industry huge amounts of money.
@TJ: That's the kind of imagery that could potentially throw this technology right off the map. Imagine the chaos, what's akin to autonomous road rage, of self-parking cars. Yikes. I'd want to steer clear.
Hi Beth, I agree. To have automonous vehicles driving on roads and neighbor streets seems dangerous. I wonder if the car has the ability to detect kids darting out into the steet to retreive a ball and stop immediately? Also, to drive in hazardous conditions like snow and rain storms requires an experience driver. I wonder how much AI can be programmed into these vehicles to handle such driving conditions. But like you, I'm kind of digging the find a parking spot in a crowded mall garage scenario.
I've been a little leery of the self-driving car concept, but I have to say, the idea of a car that would cruise crowded parking lots by itself and find me a spot--now that has some merit, in my book. Of course, there's always the paranoia about the car taking off and never coming back, but I suppose those concerns dissipate as people get more accustomed to what initially seems like out there technology.