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Mitsubishi Considers Vehicle-Deployed Drones

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【Summary】For some time now, Mitsubishi Electric has been considering vehicle-deployed drones. The unmanned aircraft could be used for finding a parking spot, or scouting out the road ahead.

Mia Bevacqua    Oct 13, 2018 7:00 AM PT
Mitsubishi Considers Vehicle-Deployed Drones
author: Mia Bevacqua   

Back in 2017, Mitsubishi teased the public with its e-Evolution concept, a car with the ability to launch a drone. Although the wild prototype never saw production, the idea of a vehicle-deployed aircraft may still be incubating, according to an article by SAE.  

You may be wondering what a drone launched from a car is good for, other than a publicity stunt. Well, Mitsubishi Electric says it's handy in a couple of ways. To start, the high-flying craft could scan the road ahead, searching for traffic or other road obstructions. It could also be used to get an aerial view of available parking, making it easier to find a spot at a crowded event.

In Mitsubishi's concept, the drone is activated and viewed via the vehicle infotainment screen. Should it find a parking spot, the aircraft relays the location, along with driving directions, back to the car.

But wait – what if someone tries to nab the parking place before you get there? Mitsubishi has thought of that, too. To signal a spot is already taken, the drone will hover over the location. Other connected vehicles and their aircraft will be notified of the reservation as well. 

When it's done flying about, the drone stores itself conveniently under a housing on the roof of the car. So, users don't have to worry about it taking up a bunch of interior space.

Right now, Mitsubishi doesn't have any plans to put the vehicle-drone pairing into production. But it continues to entertain the idea, and certainly isn't taking it off the table.

On the Mitsubishi Electric corporate blog, Executive Director of Advanced Development, Gareth Williams, writes "At Mitsubishi Electric, we've made it our mission to deliver a premium user experience to everyone in the car. It's safe to say that the frazzled nerves and meaningless anxiety caused by parking lot stalking amounts to the exact opposite experience. So we started thinking, what if we could somehow use the car's infotainment system to help drivers calmly find and reserve the nearest open parking spot? We think we've got a solution: Drones tied to the in-car infotainment system. Urban drones, to be precise, that act as personal parking-lot scouts and attendants."

Of course, Mitsubishi isn't the only automotive company to have skyward aspirations. All the way back in 2016, Ford considered vehicle-deployed drones, primarily for use in search and rescue missions. The idea was that the craft would communicate with an F-150 pickup using Ford SYNC® AppLink or OpenXC. In 2017, Land Rover also pondered a roof-mounted search and rescue drone to sit atop a Discovery SUV.

Those who can't wait to have a drone hovering over their vehicle will want to watch Mitsubishi's latest marketing campaign, featuring a swarm of mini robots. Although it's only an advertisement, the video is clever, and in some instances, downright cute. To showcase the new Mitsubishi Intuitive Technology (MiTEC) suite , the drones surge ahead making safety-oriented gestures to protect the vehicle.

Check the video out. You might just find yourself humming along to its catchy background tune, dreaming of the day drones and cars will work side by side.


Sources: SAE, Mitsubishi, Ford, The Star

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