BMW is apparently taking a somewhat different route than is normal in the promotion of its i3 electric car, based on recent reports. The company will reportedly be debuting an i3 outfitted with a “Remote Valet Parking” system that can — completely without driver input, or even presence — find a parking spot and park itself. The debut will be at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
A car that can drop you off, park itself, and then pick you up later? I don’t imagine that it’ll be that hard to find a niche market for such a vehicle. Of course, there are legal/policy/technological issues that still have to be resolved before widespread commercial use can begin, though.
The system is apparently as of now dependent upon pre-loaded maps (in conjunction with four lasers for feedback), so there certainly do seem to be some important limitations to keep in mind.
GAS2 provides some commentary:
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 driver’s license test requires no more than pressing a button. Hell, self-driving cars could make driver’s licenses themselves obsolete.
Certainly sounds to be a tech geek’s dream, doesn’t it? But still, can’t help but think of all of the limitations and potential issues that accompany such a technology. Or, for that matter, the simple fact that such systems are unlikely to see use outside of the luxury niche market for awhile. An “affordable” EV with mass market appeal is what I’m really waiting for — not something I’m expecting BMW to deliver on. Still, nice toys I guess. 🙂
Image Credit: BMW
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