Volvo has released a clip that demonstrates their self parking system that could lead to a time where the need to find a disabled parking space may be a thing of the past. More information and clip after the jump.
The prototype system that has been fitted to one of their vehicles is one of the first self-parking systems that demonstrates the ability to avoid other moving objects, such as vehicles and pedestrians. While actively searching for a parking space, it will stop or avoid other vehicles and/or other moving objects. Essentially such a system can eliminate the need for a valet to park your vehicle altogether; for disabled individuals, this could prove useful since this could potentially eliminate the difficulty of requiring a disabled parking space.
Volvo, along with a number of other car manufacturers, have been developing such systems for a number of years. There are currently autonomous systems that can parallel park available on a number of vehicles: these next-generation systems expand on this feature and allow the user to merely exit their vehicle at a designated drop-off zone and instruct their car (via smartphone app) to find a spot and park. When the user wishes to be picked up, they can instruct their car to meet them at a designated pick-up zone where they can enter their vehicle.
Self-parking systems such as Volvo's is merely a stepping stone to the eventual implementation of completely autonomous vehicles. Such systems, when applied to the disabled population, could provide convenient transportation to those who are not satisfied with current transportation options. There are a number of safety, environmental, and convenience benefits to autonomous vehicles that can benefit disabled and non-disabled drivers alike: it is only a matter of time before such systems are fitted into wheelchair accessible vehicles and can provide convenient and reliable transportation to those that have desperately needed it.