Volkswagen has just announced their new hands-free driving technology, called the “Temporary Auto Pilot” (TAP) technology. According to an article written by Andrew Couts, Digital Trends, “Volkswagen’s newly announced TAP system allows drivers to drive “semi-automatically” up to about 80 MPH — with full supervision, of course. Volkswagen believes TAP serves as a stepping stone between the “assistant systems” that already help drivers in today’s cars, and the fully-automatic driving cars of the future. ”
“Above all, what we have achieved today is an important milestone on the path towards accident-free car driving, ” said Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leohold, Executive Director Volkswagen Group Research, during a presentation of TAP in Sweden.
VW is ahead of the other manufacturers. BMW and Mercedes are including Bluetooth cell phone devices in their cars to promote hands-free talking, but as far as I know, neither has an auto-pilot function for driving their cars. Can you imagine where this auto-pilot technology is going to take us (literally)? With GPS guiding us, hands-free driving may be here sooner than you think.
How does this new hands-free driving technology work? According to Couts’ article, “When put into full “Pilot Mode, ” TAP maintains a speed set by the driver, but then uses lasers, cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors to safely slow the vehicle when it approaches a bend in the road, or another car. TAP also combines with Volkswagen’s “Lane Assist” feature, which keeps the car centered in its lane. TAP will “observe” all speed limits and passing rules, says Volkswagen, and can automatically perform stop and start maneuvers in a traffic jam. ”
Does this new technology appeal to you? Are you ready to trust your life to it? Personally I would rather wait for hands-free driving until the cars are more like hover-crafts. There’s something a bit eerie about trusting a machine to know the road conditions, curves and traffic. At least if the vehicles were airborne some of those hazards would be eliminated.
Luckily, this new technology isn’t ready to be implemented on a wide basis. So in the meantime, to free up your hands for actual driving, remember to get a Bluetooth headset. More and more states are passing hands-free cell phone laws. At the very least, even if it isn’t illegal in your state, it is a much safer way to drive and use your cell phone.
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