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How drones could open up new windows for drivers

How drones could open up new windows for drivers

How drones could open up new windows for drivers

Imagine a car part that would literally take flight and report on the road ahead.

Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America is proposing the use of vehicle drones that could serve like trained falcons — housed in the vehicle until needed, then sent skyward to send back information on such issues as traffic jams or the best nearby parking spot.

When a driver approaches congestion, a drone could be activated from the vehicle’s infotainment screen. It would lift off from a mounted spot on the vehicle’s rooftop, according to the concept.

The drone then would scout an area, analyze the landscape and send back a video stream that would be played on the infotainment screen.

Parking data would be supplied from publicly available software or websites such as Parkopedia.

“You can bring in that information, fuse it to the drone’s video sensors and then put those together,” said Jacek Spiewla, user experience manager, during a demonstration at the TU-Automotive technology conference here this month.

The drone would detect various parking spaces but also would identify spaces reserved for accessible parking or spaces with electric vehicle charging capabilities. Once an open spot is identified, the driver would be directed to the space and the drone would land back on the vehicle.

The concept is not Mitsubishi Electric’s first foray into the technology, said Mark Rakoski, the company’s vice president of advanced mobility. It also used a vehicle drone to investigate rugged trails for possible off-roading applications. Inthat case, the driver would send the drone down a trail to see whether there were any obstacles, such as a downed tree or gully.

“That was a direct request from a customer of ours that wanted some off-road capability,” he added.

But using drones to find parking presents a broader application.

“A drone is a perfect technology that can find a parking spot for you,” Rakoski said. “That was the user-experience concept behind it. In all cases, if you can find more solutions, then the technology is easier for the customer to digest and say, ‘I want to do that.’ ”

Implementing drone technology for general public use would require addressing local laws and regulations, but Rakoski said the technology is there for the concept to become a vehicle feature.

“If it can fly legally and provide camera feedback to a connected vehicle, there’s nothing stopping us from putting this into production now,” Rakoski said. “It’s just software. The integration would have to be done correctly. But there’s no technology barrier stopping it.”

Another practical function would be having the drone take flight to learn why traffic is moving at a crawl.

Spiewla acknowledges that practical issues must be worked out. For example, can the drone re-dock on the vehicle while it moves on a highway? And what is the safest speed at which to execute a drone’s return to its roost?

(Disclaimer: This article is written by Mr. Jack Walsworth, “Sailotech is not responsible forany errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information…”)