There are already cars that can take the stress of parallel parking in a tight spot by automating the action. Novel as this idea is, you still need to stick behind the wheel and make sure nothing goes awry. GM sees a future where you are removed from the situation entirely. Your car of the future could drop you off at your final destination and drive itself to the closest parking space cutting out the need for you to circle urban city blocks looking for a spot. The idea is that your searching and circling uses more gas than a direct shot by the car to the closest open space — better yet, your time is saved in the process. Though a personal driver — minus the driver — that drops you off at the front door sounds great, there seem to be a couple of problems with this situation. First being, how does the car know better than you where the open spots are and how in the world is it going to feed the meter?
GM’s Electrical and Controls Integration Lab is working on this problem and many more. They’re also developing technology that will let vehicles drive in tandem at a constant motion removing the possibility of high speed accidents. Nady Boules, the director of GM’s Electrical and Controls Integration Lab says that automated vehicles could be on the market as soon as the end of this decade.
Boules’ self parking technology would allow drivers to send their cars to parking spots too far away for them to walk to and then summon the vehicle via a smart phone when they needed it again. The technology seems quite useful for the urban driver and for an efficient gas tank, but it seems to require more than just the technology in the car. A system like this would also require all urban parking spaces to have sensors that say whether they are open or not. What if the dreaded space was taken while your car was en route? Your solo car would just have to circle again, reducing your saved energy in the process.
Perhaps Boules’ team has thought all of this out, but they aren’t releasing a lot of information, so for now keep parking yourselves. We hear there is a spot over on Fourth Street and Fifth Avenue.