Mitsubishi looking at drone tech for drivers

  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 19 Jun 2018

Live in-car video stream from the drone. — AFP Relaxnews

When we're rightly being warned all the time about the dangers of distracted driving, it could sound like an April fool joke that drivers could soon be operating drones from their vehicles. However, it's June and not April and this is a serious proposition being put forward by Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America (MEAA).

Like some sort of electronic version of a trained falcon, drivers could have a drone housed within the vehicle that could be deployed when needed to soar skywards and send back information to the car. The information could be anything from a traffic jam up ahead to the location of the best parking spot available nearby.

According to the concept, by using the vehicle's infotainment screen, the drone could be activated as a congested area is approached, and would then lift off from a housing located on the vehicle's roof.

Once airborne the drone would then scout out the surrounding area, analyzing the landscape and sending back a live video stream that would be displayed on the infotainment screen. Parking space data would be cross-referenced with publicly available software or suitable websites.

Speaking at a demonstration at the TU-Automotive technology conference in Detroit, MEAA user experience manager Jacek Spiewla said: "You can bring in that information, fuse it to the drone's video sensors and then put those together."

The idea is the drone would be able to detect various parking spaces up ahead but would also identify those spaces which are reserved for accessible parking or those allocated specifically for electric vehicles and equipped with charging facilities. Once an appropriate available space is identified, the driver would be directed by the system to the space and the drone would come back and land on the vehicle.

Mitsubishi Electric's vice president of advanced mobility,Mark Rakoski, says of the system: "A drone is a perfect technology that can find a parking spot for you. 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.' "

Of course, there would be local laws and regulations to overcome to implement this kind of drone technology, but Rakoski insists the technology is in place to make the concept a real feature on future vehicles. — AFP Relaxnews

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