Would you feel comfortable driving down the highway with a Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP) behind the wheel of your next Volkswagen? A new technology proposed by the German automaker won't take you from A to B automatically, but it will help out with more simple driving, so you can take your hands off the wheel while cruising down the highway at up to 130km/h (about 80 mph), for example. The system pairs Lane Assist with cruise control, and can be overridden by the driver at any time. The TAP system's Pilot Mode uses radar, laser, camera, and ultrasonic sensors to maintain a safe distance between vehicles, start and stop in traffic, and slow down before a bend. Speed is set by the driver, who you'll need to remain aware of your surroundings in case you need to take over control -- so don't get too comfortable poking around the menus on that AppRadio just yet.
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Driving without a Driver – Volkswagen presents the "Temporary Auto Pilot"

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leohold: "An important milestone on the path towards fully automatic and accident-free driving."

Wolfsburg/Borås, 21 June 2011 – Today, at the final presentation of the EU research project HAVEit (Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leohold, Executive Director Volkswagen Group Research, is presenting the "Temporary Auto Pilot" by Volkswagen: Monitored by the driver, the car can drive semi-automatically up to a speed of 130 kilometres per hour on motorways. It represents a link between today's assistance systems and the vision of fully automatic driving.

"Above all, what we have achieved today is an important milestone on the path towards accident-free car driving," emphasises Leohold at today's final presentation of the EU research project HAVEit in the Swedish city of Borås. The Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP) bundles semi-automatic functions, i.e. functions monitored by the driver, with other driver assistance systems. It combines such automatic systems as ACC adaptive cruise control, the Lane Assist lane-keeping system and Side Assist lane-changing monitoring into one comprehensive function. "Nonetheless, the driver always retains driving responsibility and is always in control," continues Leohold. "The driver can override or deactivate the system at any time and must continually monitor it." TAP always offers the driver an optimal degree of automation as a function of the driving situation, acquisition of the surroundings and driver and system states. It is intended to prevent accidents due to driving errors by an inattentive, distracted driver. In the semi-automatic driving mode – referred to as Pilot Mode, for short – TAP maintains a safe distance to the vehicle ahead, drives at a speed selected by the driver, reduces this speed as necessary before a bend, and maintains the vehicle's central position with respect to lane markers. The system also observes overtaking rules and speed limits. Stop and start driving manoeuvres in traffic jams are also automated. With TAP, it is possible to drive at speeds of up to 130 kilometres per hour on motorways or similar roads. Drivers must still continually focus their attention on the road, so that they can intervene in safety-critical situations at any time.

In contrast to previous research vehicles such as "Junior" and "Stanley", TAP is based on a relatively production-like sensor platform, consisting of production-level radar-, camera-, and ultrasonic-based sensors supplemented by a laser scanner and an electronic horizon. "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," comments
Leohold.

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Volkswagen Temporary Auto Pilot brings hands-free driving to the highway