Have you ever found your car stranded in a parking lot because some neighboring (jerk) drivers have parked too close for you to even open the door? That’s one problem that Jaguar Land Rover’s new prototype remote app can solve, letting you back your vehicle out of a tight spot using your smartphone.
The app uses the same sensors that Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicles currently rely on for their autonomous parking features. But instead of sitting in the car and letting the vehicle do all the work, the app allows drivers to control its steering, throttle, brakes, even gearshifts (presumably just reverse and forward) from outside the ride. So drivers can serve as their own spotters for getting in and out of tight spaces, or ensuring their car doesn’t bottom out on a hill while off-roading.
There are limits to what the app allows, of course. It’s not like Jaguar Land Rover is turning its vehicles into actual RC toy cars you can race around a parking lot. While being piloted by the app the vehicle can only hit a top speed of four mph, and it will automatically stop if the driver goes farther than 33-feet from the car. And presumably all of the vehicle’s autonomous parking sensors will also automatically stop it if it gets too close to an obstacle.
As for availability? Unfortunately the remote app is still just a prototype, but so were self-parking cars 10 or 15 years ago, but they’re now common on dealer lots. So with enough fail-safes built in, there’s no reason to think this won’t soon be a feature on your next 4x4. The technology is a stepping stone towards completely autonomous vehicles, but one that still lets those who love driving stay at the wheel—even if it happens to be on their smartphone.