Volkswagen presents semi-autonomous, hands-free driving system


June 27, 2011

Volkswagen has presented a new technology called Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP) which allows semi-automatic driving (Photo: Volkswagen)

Volkswagen has presented a new technology called Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP) which allows semi-automatic driving (Photo: Volkswagen)

Despite research by automakers such as Audi and events such as DARPA's Grand Challenge, we're still waiting for fully autonomous cars to chauffeur us about town. Volkswagen has presented a new system called Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP), which is a link between existing driver assist technologies and completely automated vehicles. While still being monitored by the driver, TAP allows semi-automatic driving on a highway at speeds of up to 130 km/h (80 mph).

Temporary Auto Pilot was presented by the head of Volkswagen Group Research, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leohold and is part of the EU-funded, 28 million euro (approx. US$39.5 million) HAVEit (Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport) research project. Instead of allowing for a car that could drive completely on its own, TAP combines automatic driving assisting technologies that are already in use, with semi-automatic functions that need to be constantly monitored by the driver.

TAP can control the car's speed, maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles, or reducing the speed before a bend. It also keeps the vehicle's central position with respect to lane markers. Stop and start maneuvers in a traffic jam are also automated and the system is able to travel at up to 130 km/h (80 mph) on the highway. Of course, TAP can be deactivated at any time.

The system works courtesy of a sensor platform, consisting of radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors supplemented by a laser scanner and an electronic horizon.

The intention is to prevent accidents due to driving errors by inattentive, distracted drivers. "One conceivable scenario for its initial use might be in monotonous driving situations, e.g. in traffic jams or over sections of a driving route that are exceedingly speed-limited," says Prof. Leohold.


I guess that could help people who are learning to drive as well !

Atul Malhotra

In addition to that, I want a completely driverless car to be developed. Imagine a car that knows that you are impaired due to alcohol, drugs or tiredness; and asks where you want to go. It says to relax and you will be driven home, and woken up when you get there.


I know a 17 year old boy who could use this whilen he finds another song on his Ipod.

David McColley

I fear that governments will never approve these systems for use, while they have a vested interest in the revenue produced by speeding, other traffic offences and parking fines. They would be giving up hundreds of millions of dollars every year in revenue.

A car that finds legal parking for you and doesn\'t break road rules is not likely to be well received by governments who have become heavily reliant on the income produced by parking fines and speed cameras.


The day will come when if you are driving yourself, the car will be screaming to the other cars, \"The idiot is driving! The idiot is driving!...\"


I understand Las Vegas already legalized it for Google\'s fleet of autonomous cars.

Dan Fostel

IT\'S ABOUT FREAKIN\' TIME! I called it \"Smart Cruise Control\". I had thought this idea for several years now..., with all of this technology, why couldn\'t the powers that be create a cruise control system that senses the speed of the car in front of you and adjust the your car\'s speed accordingly?!? They\'ve created these \'bumper sensor\' that sense AFTER a car has been hit.... (WTF?!?) That was a waste of resources...! They should\'ve been working on a system to assist in PREVENTING a hit?! Excellent Job Volkswagen!! Now, if they could only create a \"Universal T.A.P. Kit\" for anyone to purchase and install onto any vehicle...

Max Mad
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