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Relax and let Volkswagen do the driving for you

( 24/06/2011 )

The engineers at German car maker Volkswagen have taken driving to the next level - a new car from the manufacturer may almost drive itself.

According to PC Magazine, workers have created a Temporary Auto Pilot [TAP] feature to fit in with the European Union's Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport project. The new initiative uses a combination of sensors, an electronic horizon and a laser scanner to control driving in certain situations, the company said.

With the TAP system, drivers can set the controls to cruise at up to 80 miles per hour, and the sensors will position the car between road markers, as well as change speeds to accommodate curves in the road or navigate traffic.

This means a Volkswagen car equipped with TAP could essentially drive itself in some ways - especially when on a road with clearly defined markings. The system also has a secondary purpose, according to the developers: helping motorists avoid accidents.

"Above all, what we have achieved today is an important milestone on the path towards accident-free car driving," Dr Juergen Leohold, Executive Director of Volkswagen Group Research, said in a press release.

"Nonetheless, the driver always retains driving responsibility and is always in control - the driver can override or deactivate the system at any time and must continually monitor it."

The news follows recent developments in the field from tech firm Google, which could allow for self-driving cars in the near future. The firm said it had been conducting secret experiments with fully automated vehicles across California.

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