While BMW, Google and even Bosch demonstrate fully automated self-driving cars, French automotive technology company Valeo announced its more specific Remote Parking and Automated Valet Parking technologies, along with the production readiness of its Traffic Jam assistance technology.
The Automated Valet Parking is actually one program, divided into two implementation phases to comply with U.S. law. The first set of technologies, which could be included in cars in two years, allows a consumer to hold down an icon in the Valeo parking app as the car locates a parking space and parks, as long as the driver remains in sight of the car.
In the second phase system, which could be included in cars four years from now, a car can park itself outside of the view of the driver, and also will return to the driver by itself, via a smartphone app.
The complex system enabling self-parking includes 12 ultrasonic sensors, four cameras to send images back to the smartphone app, and a laser scanner to detect any static or moving obstacles and otherwise navigate without bumping into anything or anyone, plus sophisticated software that uses parking location information provided by navigation databases. Moving from the first to the second phase in the same car would require a factory hardware and software update.
The company is demonstrating Automated Valet Parking built into Audi cars in the Gold Lot, which is located behind the North Hall and across Paradise. The Valeo demo area is behind the Bosch self-driving demonstrations, which also includes a similar automated parking system.
"In the old way to go shopping with your family, you drive your family to mall, you find a parking space and you walk a long way to mall in the rain. On the way back to car, your carrying heavy bags and the car is not easy to find," Jean-Francois Tarabbia, Valeo's R&D and product marketing EVP, postulated. "In the new way, you drive to the mall entrance, and you give instructions to the car to park itself. When you're ready to go, you stand by the mall entrance and give the car instructions to come pick you up."
Tarabbia and Francois Marion, Valeo's group VP of corporate planning and strategy, also announced the commercial readiness of its Traffic Jam autopilot/assistance system, which uses much the same technologies as the company's Automated Valet Parking.
In usage, a driver stuck in a traffic jam would activate the Traffic Jam autopilot. While the driver keeps control of the steering wheel, the autopilot would control acceleration and breaking. If the driver changes lanes of if the car exceeds a certain driver-specified speed limit, the car would automatically exit autopilot and return full control to the driver.
Valeo expects the Traffic Jam system to be built into a car in about two years.
We believe an automated car must be able to take over for situations such as parking and traffic jams," stressed Tarabbia, who noted the company was working additional car automation/self-driving systems. "We should live in our car the way we live outside the car."
Marion noted the company's Valeo Innovation Challenge (valeoinnovationchallenge.valeo.com), which encourages entrants to design and build a product or system to make the cars of 2030 smarter and more intuitive, remains open until the middle of February.
While founded in France, the 70-year-old parts supplier now operates in 29 countries with more than 75,000 employees, and generated $15 billion in revenue last year. Its U.S. operation, based in Troy, MI, employs 10,000 and earned $2.24 billion last year.