Volvo’s Magnet Tech: Imagine the Possibilities

March 12th, 2014
Some see autonomous cars. I see hoverboards.

Some see autonomous cars. I see hoverboards.

One way to deal with the problem of cars driving themselves is to use GPS and radar to manage traffic and avoid collisions. That technology has started to prove itself with Google’s self-driving cars, but obviously not to the point of massive testing on regular city streets and interstate highways.

I still fail to see the point of cars that drive themselves, as I’d much rather take the wheel and steer. For those few times I don’t want to drive, I prefer to take public transportation or bum a ride from a friend. That aside, though, autonomous cars are quickly becoming a thing, and now Volvo is testing an even more advanced way to handle driver-less traffic.

The Swedes’ answer?

Magnets.

Car and Driver sums it up like this:

The Swedish automaker is testing the use of magnets embedded in the roadway that, when paired with magnetic field sensors in vehicles, give those vehicles an uninterrupted idea of where they are. As Volvo points out, the fields aren’t affected by weather and other obstacles on the road, including other cars or overhead structures that can scramble GPS signals.

The magnets, 8 inches under the pavement, form an invisible “railway” for cars to follow. That’s a great theory, but the feasibility of embedding magnets in every stretch of navigable road in the world is not likely. Currently Volvo has a 328-foot test strip to fine-tune the technology. Here’s my prediction:

In 5 years that test strip will be the world’s first hoverboard park.

Doesn’t that make a lot more sense? If you’re like me, you were heartbroken when you found out that the recent “invention” of the hoverboard was a fake. Maybe if Volvo got behind it and used this magnet technology, we could finally have our skateboard-in-the sky dreams come true.

In the meantime, I say we forget all this talk and research into autonomous cars and simply enjoy the drive.

With luck, it’ll be a drive that leads straight to the hoverboard skate park.

Let’s have some fun: Would you rather see Volvo build self-driving cars or hoverboards?

-tgriffith

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