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At Volkswagen, automated driving is a near reality

The new Volkswagen Bulli is unveiled on the

The new Volkswagen Bulli is unveiled on the floor of the New York International Auto Show in Manhattan. (April 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Volkswagen hopes to make your commute a bit easier with a new technology that allows vehicles to drive without human assistance at speeds of up to 80 mph.

Dubbed the Temporary Auto Pilot, the system uses multiple cameras and laser-sound based sensors that allow the car to react to road conditions by itself. Basically, TAP mashes adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning technologies that are already available.

But it takes it a step further. TAP vehicles accelerate and decelerate automatically based on a predefined speed you wish to maintain and distance that you want keep away from other vehicles. The system also keeps the vehicle centered between lane markers and can overtake other vehicles for passing.

“It represents a link between today’s assistance systems and the vision of fully automatic driving,” Volkswagen said in announcing TAP recently at a HAVEit event, a European organization that connects various companies to help build a public automated driving system.

Volkswagen foresees the technology being useful during monotonous driving situations like heavy stop-and-go city traffic or long-distance highway commuting.

Ultimately though, the German automaker says the driver still needs to monitor the actions of TAP while the car is in motion.

Volkswagen says its system is nearly production ready.

Photo: The new Volkswagen Bulli is unveiled on the floor of the New York International Auto Show in Manhattan.  The company has not announced which models will have the new virtual driving systems. (April 20, 2011)

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