Several cars on the market already have technology that allows them to park themselves without total interaction from the driver, but none of them allow you to completely get out of the car while it parks itself—until now. BMW has revealed a unique i3 prototype that features the company’s newest technology, which allows the i3 to drive to a parking spot and fully park itself while its driver walks off.
Imagine a future in which you pull up to a parking garage, but instead of entering and driving up and down ramps looking for the ideal spot, your car takes over once you pull up to the building. BMW has revealed its new 360-degree collision-avoidance and Remote Valet parking assistant technology, which uses four laser scanners to identify columns or other vehicles in parking garages. The system grants the car the ability to steer around obstacles and park itself in tight spots.
How does it work? The driver uses a thing called a Smartwatch to activate the system, which then steers the i3 independently through the levels of the parking garage after the driver has already gotten out of the car. Once the BMW i3 has arrived at the parking space, the vehicle locks itself and waits to be called by Smartwatch and voice command. The fully automated Remote Valet parking assistant then calculates the exact time that the driver will arrive at the car park and makes its way to the exit just as the driver walks up to the garage.
Volvo is also working on similar technology, but neither automaker has announced any production plans just yet. Hopefully the technology isn’t too far away, since it also has the ability to change the size of parking spots and garages: If cars are able to park themselves, then parking spots can be even smaller, since the spots won’t need the extra space for doors to open.
All images © BMW