The one bad thing about driving is the driving part. It’s just a hassle, really. While hurtling a 4,000-pound contraption down the road at deadly speeds, sometimes you just want to do something else with your hands, you know? Maybe eat a Big Mac, or catch up on your summer reading*. Fortunately, Volkswagen has a solution: “Temporary Auto Pilot” (TAP) technology.
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.
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.
If you ask us, TAP sounds suspiciously like a full-automated driving system. But Volkswagen stresses that the driver must still remain cognizant while using TAP, even if the he or she doesn’t really have to do anything.
When using TAP, “the driver always retains driving responsibility and is always in control,” said Leohold. “The driver can override or deactivate the system at any time and must continually monitor it.”
Volkswagen has not yet announced if or when TAP will be implemented into its vehicles.
*We were just joking about the reading bit. Don’t do that, please.