DETROIT — Imagine a car part that would literally take flight and report on the road ahead.
Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America is proposing the use of vehicle drones that could serve like trained falcons — housed in the vehicle until needed, then sent skyward to send back information on such issues as traffic jams or the best nearby parking spot.
When a driver approaches congestion, a drone could be activated from the vehicle's infotainment screen. It would lift off from a mounted spot on the vehicle's rooftop, according to the concept.
The drone then would scout an area, analyze the landscape and send back a video stream that would be played on the infotainment screen.
Parking data would be supplied from publicly available software or websites such as Parkopedia.
"You can bring in that information, fuse it to the drone's video sensors and then put those together," said Jacek Spiewla, user experience manager, during a demonstration at the TU-Automotive technology conference here this month.
The drone would detect various parking spaces but also would identify spaces reserved for accessible parking or spaces with electric vehicle charging capabilities. Once an open spot is identified, the driver would be directed to the space and the drone would land back on the vehicle.