Self-parking features are nothing new, but a car that can both park and retrieve itself at the tap of a button? That’s something to get excited about. At next months Consumer Electronics Show, a BMW i3 fitted with the Remote Valet Parking system will debut with the ability to find you or a parking spot with no driver input.
There are some caveats of course, the first being this is a concept technology still years from real world applications. After dropping you off at your intended destination the Remote Valet Parking system uses four lasers to keep an electronic eye out for obstructions and a pre-loaded map to navigate the parking garage. You can get dropped off at the door to your hotel, and then send your car to find its own parking spot. When you’re ready to leave, the i3 can drive back to where it left you, using the Apple Watch to summon your electric chariot.
While the first generation of self-parking features was restricted to use on parallel spots, the next generation can take drivers totally out of the equation. Imagine a future where finding a parking spot is a thing of the past, and instead vehicles line up in front of a store to pick up or drop off their customers. There are other uses for the technology as well, including applying the brakes in a situation where the driver doesn’t react to a pedestrian or other obstruction.
Though unlikely to head to production cars soon, it could be put to use in a car-sharing program at select locations where maps of the parking structure can be loaded up. Eventually though, we will live in a world where passing the parking portion of the drivers license test requires no more than pressing a button. Hell, self-driving cars could make drivers licenses themselves obsolete.
I’m just excited to live in a world where one day, finding parking at the mall during the holiday season doesn’t result in a headache.